THE FACULTY FORUM

Volume 10, No. 3 November 1998



CONTRIBUTORS: 

Keohane, Annual Address to Faculty

Mignolo on the Curriculum 2000 Plan

Duke Masters:

Editorial, The Politics of Difference: Class

Dani Rodrik on Global Capitalism

Gwyn on the Jobless Billion

McKibben on the Population Bomb

Parrot's Recitations: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Possum (Passim): Random Readings & Culture Studies

Editorial Policy


 WEB SITES:

 1. PROVOST ANNOUNCES NEW WEB SITE FOR THE DUKE FACULTY HANDBOOK:

 "Beginning with academic year 1998/9, the Duke University Faculty Handbook is being provided as part of the Provost's Office website. To the best of our abilities in our dynamic environment, we have included in this Duke University Faculty Handbook policies and procedures pertaining to faculty at Duke as of September, 1998. Due to the range of subjectmatter described herein, the authority and source for each topic may vary; the policies and procedures may change at any time. Revisions to the Faculty Handbook will be incorporated periodically, and members of Duke University are responsible for checking the website, located at http://www.provost.duke.edu/fhb to keep abreast of additions and changes to university policies and procedures. If you have questions or comments about the Faculty Handbook, please send them to: Faculty Handbook, Box 90007, Durham, NC 277080007."

 2. Full Academic Council Minutes from 1991 to the present are located at http://www.duke.edu/web/acouncil



 

 

Unless you've been in some monastic retreat away from campus, you are aware that last weekend we launched the Campaign for Duke. We've been engaged in early phases of the campaign for almost three years, but the kick-off is nonetheless a substantial step for the University. For one thing, it means that we can now talk publicly about the numbers and the goals and our aspirations. Thus today I want to report to you on what we have accomplished so far, and what we hope to achieve in the next five years. 

Perhaps the clearest way to explain why we are embarking on this campaign is because we can so clearly see a gap between what we can accomplish today with our people and resources, and what we could accomplish tomorrow, if only we had the resources to realize more of our dreams. Duke is full of very talented people with ambitious goals for this university. As Terry Sanford once put it, this place is distinctive for our "outrageous ambitions." 

I would guess that every one of you knows from personal experience something of what I mean by the gap between what we are able to do today and what we could do if our resources were more in line with our ambitions--to bring more talented colleagues to join us, attract more of the students we want to come to Duke, and provide support for the facilities and programs that make it easier for all of us to work together. Thus I am sure that you are able to understand readily why this campaign matters to Duke. 

I. The background: planning the campaign

 Planning for this effort began soon after the campaign for Arts & Sciences and Engineering was completed in 1991. That campaign, which focused on endowment, raised $232 million. The first indications of the feasibility of our new campaign and the needs that might be met, in 1993, pointed in the direction of $750m-$1 billion. At that time, the "B word," as we called it, seemed an almost surrealistic step for Duke, based on the size of our university, our alumni body, and our past fund-raising experience. A few other universities had breached that barrier, but it still took our breath away.

In the intervening years, the needs of the several schools and of the university as a whole have been discussed in many forums, and refined into the case that I will share with you today. In doing this, it became clear that we have significant needs for support that add up to considerably more than $1 billion, even when wish lists are pruned substantially. We have also done well in our early-stage, "quiet phase" fund-raising, and we have benefitted from the strong national economy and the bull market. A number of our peers have successfully completed billion-plus campaigns, thus making the whole idea seem a bit more familiar. Their success also means that they are advancing their own goals at a time when competitive resources for excellence in teaching and research matter a great deal to Duke. Most important, we have been blessed by the loyalty and interest of many new donors and potential donors, compared with our prospect pool in 1993.

On the basis of at least two of these indicators--the pressing resource needs of all parts of the university, and the increased number of generous and committed alumni, parents and friends of Duke--we have determined our case statement and our goals. We have no crystal ball on the state of the world economy going forward, but we are hopeful that underlying strength in many areas will provide a climate conducive to cautious optimism over the long term. And there is good evidence that giving to colleges and universities does not track closely with the fortunes of the market, even though there may be short-term implications for particular donors.

 Thus last Saturday we took the plunge, with a formal vote of the Board of Trustees, supported by the Boards of Visitors from every school of the University and several members of the faculty and administration, including your Chair, gathered in the Great Hall. The vote to launch the campaign was unanimous and enthusiastic, at which point Sam Hammond obligingly rang the Chapel bells and we were on our way.

 II. The case for Duke

 The Case Statement for the campaign opens with the following succinct description of our goal and purposes, which is reprinted on the front of the goals summary that we have distributed:

 Duke University seeks to raise $1.5 billion by December 31, 2003, to ensure that we continue to excel in scholarship that advances the frontiers of knowledge, in dedicated teaching in every school of the university, and in service to society that enhances the quality of life of people everywhere.

 The longer version of the case statement continues with our best efforts to describe what is most distinctive about Duke, about our history and characteristics and aspirations. We were mindful that all prose like this can sound alike, that the statements of many universities launching a campaign can seem interchangeable. Our goal was to capture, both truthfully and eloquently, some of those elements that make Duke Duke.

 We talked about significant investments in the past--creating a medical center "way ahead of the curve" in the 1930s; establishing and then endowing the Fuqua School of Business in the 1980s, and the Nicholas School of the Environment in the 1990s; targeting significant faculty investment in the humanities in the 1980s; building the Levine Science Research Center in the early 90s. We mentioned Duke's entrepreneurial spirit and energy, but linked that spirit to a continuing sense of a university with "one soul," as the trustees of Trinity College noted in 1924 when they accepted J. B. Duke's very generous endowment transforming the college into Duke University, promising that, in the new investiture as in the old, [this institution] will be dedicated to sound ideas and disciplined in the hard services of humanity.

 What are the signs of that "one soul"? Among them:

 --the stand Trinity College's faculty and trustees took in 1903 against heavy pressure and public outrage, in support of John Spencer Bassett, professor of history, who dared to mention Booker T. Washington in the same sentence with Robert E. Lee as a "great man" of the South. Duke's stand was intended, as Dean William Preston Few said at the time, to show that this campus would be "one spot on Southern soil where men's minds are free.... [We will not] yield our minds to any sort of intellectual bondage." This stand helped not only to distinguish Trinity College from its peers, but also to define academic freedom in our country. 

--the decision, prompted by Washington Duke's generous gift conditioned on this step, to admit women "on an equal footing with men," in 1896.

 --the creation, in 1925, of the Angier B. Duke Scholarship program, and all successive scholarships designed to make Duke accessible to students of all economic backgrounds, a commitment that dates firmly to our founding

 The case statement notes with pride that, based on such commitments and ambitions, this university has come very far, very fast, from its early days as a one-room schoolhouse just over a century and a half ago, or as a nascent university almost 75 years ago. And it then poses the question: "If Duke has been able to come so far, so fast, with relatively limited resources compared to our competitors, why do we now ask for significant new resources?" Or, more succinctly, "Why Duke? Why Now?"

 III. Why Duke? Why Now?

 The answer is two-fold:

a) the university needs to undergird our current position with a stronger endowment, and increase the annual flow of operating support in every school. Compared with our peers, our budget is more heavily dependent on tuition and fees, and we have a relatively modest foundation of endowment income per student every year to provide the baseline for our budget.

You are all familiar with the statistics about the much larger endowment of such ancient wealthy establishments as Harvard or Princeton, but may not realize that Duke's endowment is only one-quarter that of Stanford, about 2/3rds of Northwestern's, about half of that of Rice or the University of Chicago. Even when we add in the generous sustaining support from The Duke Endowment in Charlotte, we rank 21st among all universities in the size of our endowment.

Perhaps a better way to think of this is in endowment per student, illustrated on this chart. You can immediately see the size of the gap. We've included Davidson and Wake Forest to make the point that Duke's endowment is not even the largest in our home state. 

Of course it is important to put this into perspective; we are talking relative comparisons here. We know that we are blessed with a strong economic foundation compared with many colleges and universities in this country--but not compared with most of those with whom we compete most directly for students and faculty. As a private university, we are deeply dependent on the ongoing generosity of alumni and friends, and in this campaign we reach out boldly to ask their help in strengthening Duke's endowment.

This next overhead shows the proportions of our several goals in the overall campaign:

--46% of the campaign will be for endowment, $700 million in round numbers (the actual goal is about $660 million) 

--7%, $100 million, for annual operating support through the Annual Fund

 --12%, $180 million, for facilities

 b) the second part of the answer to "Why Duke? Why Now?" is to support bold new initiatives. We're proud of the trajectory of rapid advance over the past few decades, and we want to sustain it in the years ahead. In every school, there are clear needs for new faculty members to improve our faculty/student ratios and ensure that we can provide instruction and conduct research in key areas. There is need as well for some carefully chosen new and renovated facilities. Interdisciplinary programs of great promise and excitement, in fields as varied as cognitive neuroscience, globalization and democracy, genetics, the Kenan Ethics Program, environmental policy, health policy, child policy and many others are either in the early stages or on the drawing board. They will provide wonderful new opportunities for both faculty members and students, and enhance our ability to serve people everywhere through productive research and training. Therefore each school and major program area has set its own goals, and broad university-wide initiatives are described separately, as in the center portion of your handout.

 Perhaps the most informative way to describe our goals is by key areas: faculty support, scholarship support, and other major priorities across the university. These are summarized in a succinct form in this next overhead, which also shows the proportion of the goals that has been met so far. These numbers are not additive, since the overall endowment category includes both scholarships and professorships, but we show it this way in order to chart our progress against our major priorities, and make sure that we keep our eyes on the real prize--the categories where we most need support. It's important not just that we raise money, but that we raise it for the right purposes, the central priorities of the university.

 You can see that so far we've lagged in our efforts to raise new named chairs, and every school as well as central development needs to renew our emphasis on this area and put it right at the top of our list.

 Several people have also asked where fellowships for the graduate school appear in our campaign. They are included here within "graduate and professional" fellowships; $20 million of that goal is for the graduate school as such. The conventional wisdom is that this is hard money to raise, so the goal seems to some ambitious. To others of us, it is minimal and probably below a threshold that we need at Duke, and I am committed to making sure we make (and I hope) surpass this goal. Graduate fellowships are described in the longer case statement both under Arts and Sciences and under the heading of "university-wide priorities," where they appear prominently among the interdisciplinary and cross-school University Scholarships.

The Campaign for Duke is a truly comprehensive campaign, the first in Duke's history. This means two things: first, that every dollar pledged for Duke, for any purpose (except for several forms of sponsored research and clinical trials, which do not fall within the types of categories normally counted for a campaign), every dollar for every purpose raised between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2003, counts towards our total. This includes both endowment and current gifts; planned gifts, such as charitable remainder trusts, and bequest intentions, appropriately credited at discounted present value. 

The comprehensive nature of the campaign also indicates that every school, every part of the university, from the Medical Center through the libraries, athletics, student life, the Gardens, the Chapel, every part is participating, as you can see from the next overhead.

As we launch the campaign, we have a "nucleus fund" of $684 million across the university. That means that over the past 2 years and 8 months, January 1996-August 1998, we raised over 45% of our goal, which is a very good start; the usual target for such "quiet phase" fund-raising is anywhere from 1/3 to 40%, and every part of the university is at that level. $540 million of the pledged amount has already been paid, including $100 million in planned gifts.

 As you know, a number of significant and generous gifts helped us reach this impressive total, as several good friends of the university made multi-million dollar commitments, including the Nicholas family, J.B. Fuqua, Melinda French Gates and her husband Bill, Anne and Robert Bass, and the Duke Endowment. Thousands of other loyal and generous people have made gifts that have not received publicity, gifts of all sizes and for every purpose.

 IV. How will this affect you?

 I hope that the information I've provided will help answer the question: how will all this affect you, your colleagues and students, your part of the university? The central focus is on support for student scholarships and faculty professorships, as well as on annual operating support for each school at Duke. This should be welcome news, and an indication that we have our basic priorities in order.

However, you should be aware that this will only, in unusual circumstances, mean that you see a sudden infusion of cash to be spent in these ways. Much of the goal is for endowment, to provide support not only for current use but for the years ahead. As you know, endowment money is invested to achieve a stable return as high as possible, but whatever our return, high or low, we spend only about 5% of the principal every year, smoothing out the bull and bear markets over the years to keep the value in equilibrium.

 Remember also that most donors make their gifts through pledges over 3-5 years, and thus that the money is not available all at once in fact, some of it will not be available until five years after we close the campaign, in 2008. Most of the benefits of our effort will be felt towards the latter part of the campaign. We are urging donors to make their pledge periods as brief as they reasonably can, but even so, generous gifts can rarely be paid out over just a year or so. So every part of the university will see significant benefits from the campaign over time, but for most of us, it will not make an immediate visible difference to the bottom line.

 V. How can you be involved?

 If your questions include not only, how does this affect my school and my colleagues, but also how can I help, there are several answers. All of you will soon be receiving a small glossy brochure with a concise summary of the campaign goals, which includes a tear-off response sheet on the final page that you can send in if you want more information. That's as aggressive as we plan to get in asking most of you for money, at this time, anyway. There is also a campaign web site linked to Duke's home page, which will give you updated information about our progress over the months.

 Most of us are able to make an annual fund gift of either a modest or more robust amount, to support your own college or school, or your own favorite part of Duke, whether it's financial aid or the Library, the Center for Jewish Life or athletics. During the campaign, such gifts will be very welcome; they provide needed dollars, and they also allow us to tell other donors that the university has the enthusiastic backing of our own faculty and staff.

There are also a number of occasions where you can be helpful in reaching out to potential donors: for instance, speaking about the character of Duke and the teaching and research that go on here everyday, at gatherings of Boards of Visitors or alumni leaders. You don't have to do anything but talk about what you find intellectually exciting. As faculty members, you are able to describe this in words far better than even the most gifted writer in the major gifts department can muster. You don't have to ask for the money. We'll take care of that.

 Actually, some of you are very good at asking for money, and if you know (or suspect) that you might have this talent, we can certainly use your colleagueship! Your dean might ask you to join in making a call on a key donor, to put your own passion for scholarship on the table to ask for faculty research funds or support for a new program for your school.

 VI. Conclusion

 I hope you have gathered from this address that those of us who have been working on the campaign are very excited about what it means to Duke. We are have a magnificent group of staff people and volunteers, devoting significant portions of their time and energy to asking people to support our university. Many of these people work for the schools, in close collaboration with your deans, and they have done a wonderful job in preparing for this campaign. John Piva and Bob Shepard have assembled one of the most impressive development teams in the country. These people have brought this campaign together in a focus on the whole university, on the Big D, in a way some would have thought impossible a few years ago.

 Several steps were crucial to our success so far. The first was when John Piva agreed to lead the campaign, with all his wealth of knowledge about Duke people and the deep affection in which he is held, and his absolutely incredible talent for persuading people to part with their money. At the same time, he brought in his not-so-secret weapon, Dr. Robert Shepard, fresh from a very successful campaign at Penn, to be the director of the campaign. Bob has an amazing ability to inspire people to work for Duke; he's the one who pulls our team together like our most gifted coaches do.

The second step was when Pete and Ginny Nicholas agreed to serve as volunteer co-chairs of the whole campaign. Pete and Ginny stepped up in the very first months of our silent phase with their generous family gift for what is now the Nicholas School of the Environment; equally important, they had both been very successful volunteer leaders for Duke regionally and nationally. They are seasoned, savvy, and deeply committed to the cause, and it's a joy to work with them. 

I hope I have conveyed our sense that despite some inevitable setbacks (since for some unaccountable reason, not everyone you ask to support Duke says yes), everybody on this team is very optimistic about what we are doing. Raising money is psychologically a rewarding enterprise, despite the public image it sometimes has. You are not asking people to part with their last dollar, you are reaching out to philanthropic folks capable of making gifts in a whole range of sizes, and persuading them that Duke deserves and needs their money, and Duke is where they ought to give it. And the enterprise creates a wonderful camaraderie among those engaged in it. As we planned the campaign, for instance, we spent several months trying to come up with an appropriate name for the campaign, something more rhetorically embellished than just "The Campaign for Duke." We considered all kinds of possibilities, including:

 The Campaign for Duke University: A University Like No Other

 Claiming the Future: The Campaign for Duke University

 Keeping One Soul: the Campaign for Duke

 Our Turn, in Our Time

 A Future Worthy of our Past

 Fulfilling Our Promise

 Late one night, after an intensive planning session, this process generated some alternatives, of which I'll share a few. You can think of these as the Top Six Rejected Campaign Slogans:

It Takes a Village to Raise an Endowment 

Just Duke It

 The Rich Are Different

 Dinero et Religio

 Keeping the Promise of the Future Worthy of its Past for an Institution Like No Other of Power and Promise for the Next Millennium 

and, finally, 

If Not Doris, Why Not You?

 Fortunately, reason prevailed in the cold light of dawn, and we go forward, proudly and simply, with The Campaign for Duke. We know that this campaign will make a significant difference to this exceptional university, and to the lives and work of all of us, and we pledge to do our very best to bring it home successfully.



EdNote: The following letter was sent to Peter Lange, chair of the Curriculum 2000 Committee, by Walter Mignolo of Romance Studies.  

THINKING ABOUT THE CURRICULUM 2000

 To Professor Peter Lange

Chairman, Curriculum 2000 Committee

 Dear Peter:

In a recent meeting of the Department of Romance Studies, which has a significant component of members also in the Literature Program, we discussed the document "Curriculum 2000: A Proposal." There was indeed a lively, and at the same time, intense discussion that showed the interest with which our faculty are addressing the issues raised by the document. There was general agreement on the value and promise of the document as well as on the need to re-structure the curriculum accordingly to meet the present and future requirements of undergraduate education. There was also general agreement regarding the superb job of the committee in putting this document together in which vision toward the future is balanced with careful attention to detail. Also, there was, finally, a shared concern which was expressed in different manner by different faculty but that I can summarize in one sentence: most of us in the Literary and Cultural Studies component of the Humanities felt that some of our most substantial, indeed perhaps decisive interests, have been left out. Some faculty also expressed serious structural concerns which we will discuss in our next meeting.

Let me explain the malaise. If you look at the first two "Areas of Knowledge," you will realize that "Arts and Literature," in spite of superficial appearances, doesn't have a significant place in the horizontal line of the matrix where "Competencies" and "Focused Inquiries" are located. The same could be said about "Civilizations." But, to simplify matters, let's consider "Arts and Literature" only. Insofar as "Reasoning" is defined as "quantitative, deductive and/or inductive," a real recognition is missing of the specific uses of reason that are generally associated with work on "Arts and Literature." We could refer to them as 'interpretive' for brevity's sake, which is further explained below. As to 'foreign languages,' although we applaud the inclusion of the category, we don't feel it adequately represents our collective work either, since literature in foreign languages ought not to be reduced to a tool for learning the language.

We understand that such a reduction is fairly commonplace outside our own field, an image that is maintained in the current reform but doesn't represent what we do. If you then think about "writing," literature could count as a good way of satisfying some "composition" or "creative writing" demand, which is fine, but with it we run into limitations which are similar to those raised by the implicit pairing of "Literature and Foreign Languages" in your document. There is indeed a better match for us with "Research" as we can engage in training students in research techniques in the Humanitiesbut that would hold true for all fields, so we must take research as a non-specific category.

 Now let's take a quick look at the "Focused Inquiries." "Cross Cultural Inquiry" is perhaps the best suited category for "Arts and Literatures" in terms of romance studies, not only because of the comparative dimension required in cross cultural inquiry, but also because cross-cultural inquiry is embedded in a Department that deals with four Literatures disseminated across three continents. Furthermore, each of the four Romance Literatures we deal with is also in contact with non-Western cultural practices. To give just an example, consider French with Arabic in North Africa, Spanish with Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia and that is as far as we can go re "Focused Inquiries" in a creative way. It would require a tour de force to make sense and match literature with a focused inquiry in "Science, Technology and Society," and it would be a pedagogical reduction to use literature as a focus for "Ethical Inquiry." Last but not least, there is a fundamental category, namely, the aesthetic, which is missing altogether, and "Ethical Inquiry" is not a category that can or indeed will satisfy the perspectives of a large number of scholars in the humanities. I'll come back to this issue below.

However, that is not all. We feel that the "Humanities" are implied but not explicitly considered in the "Areas of Knowledge." Over a century ago, academic knowledge was organized into the so called "three cultures"-­the natural sciences, the humanities and the social sciences--and institutionalized as arts and sciences in most American universities. This is not the place to go into details on current discussions about the structuring and the re-structuring of the social sciences and the serious implications those discussions have for the humanities. It is, however, certainly the place to give "understanding" its proper dimension next to "knowledge." Let it suffice to mention the so called Gulbenkian Report on "Restructuring the Social Sciences" and David Featherman's statement in the newsletter Items of the Social Science Research Council (1993). It is imperative that a curriculum that anticipates the future has a visible space for the Humanities as a third component in its own right of the "three cultures" in the cultures of scholarship.

Based on these considerations, the Department of Romance Studies respectfully recommend to the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Review Committee that:

1) The second area of knowledge should be renamed "Humanities and Civilizations." In this way, the humanities will regain the place they deserve next to the other "two cultures" of scholarship, social sciences and sciences and mathematics. The current articulation projects an image in which "arts and literature" and "civilizations" might be viewed as having an ornamental and supplementary role vis-à-vis the cognitive inquiry represented by the social and the natural sciences. It doesn't indicate that there is a method of thinking which is preferred in the humanities. In this way, you will have four very specific areas of knowledge:

a) "Art and Literature" will include and underline the aesthetic experiences and the performing arts;

b) The "Humanities and Civilizations" will have a distinctive place as the social and natural sciences have in the current version;

c) & d) The "Natural and Social Sciences" will be enhanced in their more distinctive place in the curriculum, vis-à-vis the humanities, on the one hand, and aesthetic and the performing arts on the other.

2) "Interpretive" reasoning should be added to the three kinds of reasoning already existing: quantitative, deductive and inductive. "Interpretive" reasoning is what characterizes the humanities as an area of knowledge and a style of inquiry. Interpretive reasoning, however, is not particular to the Humanities.

3) "Ethical Inquiry," although not particular to the humanities, should be expanded and complemented in two directions. On the one hand, "Aesthetic." On the other hand, "Critical" should be added in a domain encompassing ethical and aesthetic reflections since established truth cannot be assumed as final and critical thinking remains of the essence.

We thank you in advance for your consideration. Each of us will be happy to provide you with more information or further clarifications on the issues touched upon in this letter if you consider it necessary. Thank you again for the time and efforts all of you have put into this project.

Sincerely,

Walter Mignolo, Professor and Chair

Department of Romance Studies



DUKE MASTERS: JOE PORTER

EdNote: This satiric gem by English professor Joe Porter, which won a Pushcart Prize and was published in Harper's, is cited from his Lithuania: Short Stories by Joe Ashby Porter (1990). Author and editor of more than a dozen books of fiction and criticism, Porter is now editing the New Variorum Othello.

I was down in the mouth, Martha was upstairs with the kids, in his first tube series Rick Montalban was playing a DA--a welcome switch from the detective cycle according to Hearst Motion Picture Editor Dorothy Manners (HMPEDM). I'd had flak that day from the boss about some quantification, it was quite a flap and 1 was feeling like chucking it. Being a 'puter programmer (PP), 1 knew I wouldn't lack for work. I'd popped a Quaalude and Rick was wrapping up a smack baron when down the stairs comes Martha doing it. I said, "Oh really?" She gave me a Bronx cheer through the banister rails.

 We'd talked about it but I hadn't expected her to start just like that. I think she'd been practicing in secret 'cause she got down the stairs okay She kicked off her mukluks and came over and stood with her elbow on the coffee table. A laxative ad, a Melmac ad, some gag-rule claptrap on the news before she looks away from the screen. "Doc Purdy says forget bursitis."

 "Purdy's no doc, he's. . ."

 Martha interrupted, "I've made up my mind, Bill, and I'm not backing out. Noon news showed Jackie doing it at a function. If you want to look like a cracker, that's your problem." They were showing Iraqi quake damage footage before back to Rick, who was in hot water. Catherine Spaak, a skyjacker, had winged him. Martha said, "It's easier than I thought though."

 "You fracture me. Five'll getcha ten you don't make it through the weekend." That was a Friday.

 That weekend we backpacked with Arch and Tiffany Drake. Arch was a PP too, freelancing at the time. We'd talked about leaving kids home but decided not to. Bill Jr. was fifteen and Martha Jr.'d've been eleven, with Arch and Tiff's in the same bracket. Ours had tried it now and again around the house, and Martha Jr. could already roller-skate doing it. Saturday morning when we took stuff out to the car, they and their mother were all doing it. They all stayed down most of that weekend and from then on, except that for half a year Martha Jr. might pop up for a laugh.

 Arch and Tiff tooted and waved (T&W): "Let's book." I backed out and followed them to the wilderness area parking lot. The kids didn't stop yakking. They were playing tic-tac-toe in the back and when one won he or she would give the other a good thwack. I was too sicky-poo about employment snafus to mind. Arch parked his Wankel Mach II smack-dab at the end of the lot and when he and Tiff stepped down out I saw that they were doing it. Their kids were too.

 The Joy of Cacking, the conglom that owned the one I'd been PPing for for a couple of years, had a knack for diversification. They'd just bought into Cunard, and office platitude had it the next step was to work some Peking action as a decoy to wangle tax shrinkage. That would draw ack-ack, but J of C had a gaggle of tricks up its sleeve and its future looked anything but lackadaisical. It was playing glitz ball, so what was racking my brains that Saturday was all I stood to lose or gain moving to a new conglom or freelancing like Arch. Arch and I'd been chums years and so had Tiff and Martha. Arch and Tiff are Quakers but you wouldn't want to meet a wackier couple, so I aimed to bend Arch's ear about my job sometime during the weekend.

All the rucksacks but mine dragged, and seeing how slow the going up the trail was didn't make me eager to get down. On the other hand they all chatted like mad and I kept having to bend over to follow. We hit the site about two and pitched camp. After a macaroon snack the kids waddled off to gather kindling, the girls were chewing the cud about a boutique and Arch and I broke out a six-pack and axes and split a few logs. Handling the axe down there was easier for him than I'd expected. Then we sat on the woodpile and rapped.

 "What's eating you, Bill? You look like you want to duke it out with somebody." I got worked up letting off steam about the job but Arch didn't crack a smile. He said, "Listen, Mac, that's hooey. I'd hang tight in your place. This rickrack with the boss'll blow over. You and Martha should invite him and Khakeline bowling." He said J of C's quark angle looked good and in fact he himself planned to hook up on a permanent basis since freelancing was getting too flaky too quick. The kids were moving back into the clearing over by the douches. Martha Jr. missed a softball from Arch Jr. that would've beaned me if I hadn't bobbed my head down in time. Arch grinned, "Dangerous up there, Bill," as he scooted off his log and started toward the fire. I rose to follow and old Arch looked up and said, "Why not give it a try?"

 It was dusk, and I remember the crackling of the campfire as I thought, "Why not?" And I remember how the trees wagged as I squatted. Arch and I ambled over to the fire where the wives were cooking a lip-smacking wokload of sprouts. "I knew you were up to it," Martha cooed, and she planted a peck on my kisser. I stayed down the rest of that weekend, kayaking through quagmires and brackish shallows, nearly losing tackle to a bull mackerel I finally landed, relaxing at Tiff's after-lunch songfest cacophony, I stayed down. It sure was good to take a gander right or left and ogle smirks instead of empty air.

 That was, oh, seven or eight years ago, when to lots like me duckwalking (DW) looked weak on staying power and thin on consequence. Little did we know. To backtrack, I had first heard of it a year or so before on a wrap-up of what older young adults had been into. One segment dealt with a Texas air force base brouhaha where a Big Mac maitre d' who'd channeled incoming customers flat south of a DWing waitress got hooted by a WAC claque. I remember I said, "Those squirts." Martha said yes, but she'd scanned a Sunday supplement piece a while back about it that made it sound fun. Later you heard about it more frequently and then somebody said he'd seen a gentleman doing it here in town, over on Thirty-third near the shellac factory. The exact reason why it eventuated is still in question, but discos were one of the places it seemed to catch on first. The Cow-cow Mooie, the Wigwag, and the Macaque were only three of the steps it hatched. TV Guide ran a New Year's spread about it with a snap of that month's Neilsen pinup doing it with the Whackers' quarterback at New York's Bimbo's overlooking Central Park. Videoland in fact was a pacesetter. A daytime game show anchorlady sometimes came on doing it, and then on a novelty series about a paramedic and his favorite Tommy gun the whole cast did it. Flicks caught on and novelizations followed fast on their heels.

 In the sports world the change raised a few hackles. Most squawks centered on the gridiron 'cause it slowed the game so much. But that was true of all the running sports, and rule changes must've had umps cracking books even when they went potty. Fans groused but there was no denying that tactics, especially blocking and tackling, were easier to qualitate. Backboards got lowered for hoopsters; batters' and pitchers' styles underwent more far-reaching changes than catchers'. With these like other team sports the field of play naturally shrank so playtime could approximate foregoing commitments to duration length. Ditto for track, double-dog ditto for broad and high jump. The underhand disappeared from tennis, but in swimming the breast- and backstroke needed only slight kick modifications. Billiards survived intact on a lowered table, and jockeys required minimal stirrup-strap hitches.

 The presidential lackey squad gave out he personally affirmed DW's gassiness for some months until after one State of the Union Gossipcast (SUC) he slid off the official banquette and didn't stand but instead did it off the stage. Some hacks penned quasi-clucks, others marked it up to sprightly daffiness. The short podium at his next confab told us we were eyeballing the beginning of an era. Armed forces were quick to follow suit. I recall some bivouacked Cossacks surviving a surprise attack with no more than dented helmets.

Of course it infused new fuel into the economy. Take slacks: looser knees cried out for alterations in factory process-components that themselves had to be designed and produced in other factories. Ripples big as tidal waves raced every which way.

My own life has taken several new tacks. For a month after that memorable weekend I sometimes thought of standing back up, but I stayed down and mv relations with Martha and the kids waxed smoother pronto. One evening as we gathered on our tatamis around the din-din table Bill Jr. turned to me and cackled, "Pap, hunkering here with you and the big M and Sis-face makes me sure I'm the luckiest little pecker alive." My ticker got gooey.

 As far as old Martha and me are concerned, that weekend beside the picnic table we started to re-relate (RR) and as the new stance grew on us we found ourselves chitchatting more. The mechanics of sex haven't had to change too much of course, and the actual act gets done at least as often as before duckwalking (BD). At the drop of a hat she'll say, "Drag those knackers over here, Bill"-- she's still in bed, it's Sunday, I've showered and before I even dry my back we're banging. We sleep streetcar. Sometimes in the beginning I'd stretch the gams in bed but now the fronts of my knees nuzzle the backs of hers. She's still stacked. The other day we were readying to step next door for drinkypoos and an Also Sprach tape. Old Martha had on a black Shantung poly mini and platform flippers. The placket wobbled like a raccoon tail and I went gaga all over again when she sidled over for a buss.

Like everybody we enjoyed a spate of redecorating in the beginning. We were in a semidetached bungalow in hock up to our necks so we made do with ladders and step-ups, our old gimcrack furniture, lowered macrame' and spice racks and shorter wastebaskets. Now we're in the condo with all new chopped Louis XIV and a recessed waterbed. Martha's acquired some slick bric-a-brac at the Knicknack Shack down the block. A set of Now Faces in Composition Matter Plaques (NFCMP) tops the period baseboard.

 Bosso got kicked upstairs soon after my little contretemps and with the new helmsman things have been cricket. Work's the same, but better. Puters' capacities explode monthly simultaneous to monthly hardware shrinkages, and programming's several magnitude notches above prior, but office routine's distinctly similar So wall urinals have become straddle troughs, so what: everybody still wears baseball caps, gagsters stock whoopee cushions, and the Muzak's never run dry.

As to social life. The fam and I get off on floor tubefests with the neighbors now and again, as I've hopefully specified. Roller-rink Saturday matinees are a hoot, especially when we tap a keg. Golf is always golf even with lateral swings, and the Cheer Club plays nine when it's not hawking loquat pie and sausage for the subteen skateoramas. Bill Jr. and Martha Jr. have Trans Ams with glass packs. He plays wah-wah in the marching band and shortstop in the summer. She majorettes--her squad's the Whirlybirds. They both have part-time jobs and heartthrobs.

 J of C's had more than its share of the DW prosperity. Somebody must've had an inside line 'cause just at the start, when most congloms had kissed off construction for a cash-flow bottleneck cork, and starts were scarcer than hen's teeth, J of C shifted its diversification exactly that way. As DW became a fait accompli, other gloms moved in for some pie too. Horizontal bisection of existing units was the rule, though some spaces accommodated tri- and hypertrisection, and none of the new plexes and rises has ceilings above four feet. Housing's had megabucks for a demidecade now and J of C's led the pack so I have plenty to crow about. True, some Jack or other over cocktails occasionally gets nostalgic about the upright posture we abandoned. But I say, after all, was it really ever more than a posture?



EdNote: The following meditation was composed on the occasion of the Yom Kippur holy day last month. We published a similar meditation on the Christmas Tree ceremony, written by George Williams, two years ago. 

 

Edward D. Levin, Ph.D.

Box 3414

Duke University Medical Center

Durham, NC 27710, USA

 

Phone 9196816273

FAX 9196813416

email edlevin@acpub.duke.edu



Editorial

 THE POLITICS OF DIFFERENCE: CLASS

 

 

From my lost wasted youth, I recall two episodes that permanently altered my political orientation. The first, which shifted my luke-warm allegiance from two-thirds Republican and one-third Democrat to the other way around (still luke-warm), happened during the 1960 Presidential debates when JFK remarked that only one Republican had voted for the Social Security Act in 1935. That is no party for a working-class stiff like me, I thought, though I reserved enough independence to support Republican candidates now and then for their personal qualities or as an antidote to Democrat error. (I am a conservative in wanting to punish violent crime with a savage beating, and a liberal in wanting to guarantee every child a fair chance in life.)

The other tidbit from long ago is my father's description of living as a low person-­broke and jobless-­during the Great Depression. When word got around that some jobs were available, he recalled, he would show up three hours before the employer was to arrive only to find maybe four hundred desperate men waiting to apply for the five or six openings. At the time, he and they had families to support with no safety net to fall back on. This memory in turn has been augmented by an image from early in this decade, when several hundred jobs were advertised for a new hotel in Chicago and television news displayed something like six thousand people standing in line in freezing weather holding applications. And in recent months, as we all know, this appalling syndrome has reappeared on a global scale in tottering economies from Jakarta to Moscow.

In the eyes of these low people, contemporary capitalism has produced a view of Big Money as a global monster of infinite self-aggrandizement. Admittedly, the grubby efforts of the super-rich to become hyper-rich can promote the general welfare. Their investments do provide jobs and their charity can be greatly efficacious. More effectively than government, Andrew Carnegie scattered libraries across a thousand working-class neighborhoods, while J B. Duke diverted a healthy chunk of his fortune toward educating countless thousands of low people. But neither Big Money, conventionally invested, nor Big Charity seems able to answer the chief economic challenge of the next century: the need to guarantee a living wage job for anyone willing to work. On a global scale, thanks to modern communications, that goal figures to gradually earn the status of a fundamental human right in the decades ahead.

As always, a fundamental right implies a fundamental responsibility. In our more enlightened societies, most of us low people already accept a limitation on family size, but in the next century the "Can't feed 'em? Don't breed 'em" ethic is destined to become a world-wide moral imperative. In an abstract sense the oil-rich sheik with fifty children is no better, morally, than a poor man with twenty-five (I know of one such man in Durham, and there may be others), but the change in mores will doubtless move, as change in language is said to do, from ditch to castle. In return for a job at a living wage, society can rightly expect men and women have only the number of children that they have the means to raise well. As the population figures become ever more harrowing, moreover, and as women claim greater social equality, even venerable opponents to birth control like the Catholic Church may be counted on to reconsider a stance that was framed for the time of Noah.

Going into the next century, the chief contribution of recent times to a more ethical economy will be the dismantling of this century's costly Marxist experiment. Its two crucial delusions, that human intelligence is capable of running a planned economy and that human virtue on a society-wide scale can outweigh selfish greed, have been too decisively exposed to permit their rebirth as effective social policy. All too clearly, a prime reason for the demise of sovietized societies has been their erection of rigid class hierarchies that reserved dachas, limos, special stores, and political privilege to the commissars and their cronies. So, by default, for the foreseeable future capitalism reigns supreme, with the fate of nations dependent on whether the markets can cope with the fear, greed, and stupidity that periodically sweep like a pandemic through the investment community.

For Americans, what that means in the near future is a continuing degradation of our political process, as Big Money interests pour unlimited resources into fraudulent media campaigns to elect their boughten public servants. When greed and corruption cause new Savings and Loan-type scandals, here and abroad, we can therefore expect Congress and the IMF to continue using our tax money to bail out high people--rich investors--while low people desperate for a day's pay get thrown out of work in great numbers. We can expect phony tax reforms that award $200 a year to ordinary workers while funneling hundreds of millions to the politicians' billionaire sponsors. We can likewise expect world-wide environmental devastation to continue enriching a small class of amoral profiteers. And money exchanges around the world will continue to devote ten percent of their trillion-dollars-a-day commerce to business needs and the rest to predators intent on looting equity from other people's currencies.

Even so, as we look back over the social reforms of the century past, the long view gives reason to hope that progress will come. For one thing, the economic turmoil of the times may give even high people a reason to join low people in a common search for economic stability. In this regard, John Silber, the President of Boston University, provides an engaging example. This summer, the New York Times has reported, Silber's personal fortune of $1.7 million shrank overnight to $43,000 when an investment option suddenly went bust, obliterating not only Silber's private hoard but also the large investments in this outfit that he had urged upon his friends and kinfolk and Boston University itself. And of course the really big advantage of the low people is their numbers, which should in time prove an irresistible force against the frivolities of Big Capital running amok.

Pressed by that force, future exertions of human intelligence should prove inventive enough to maintain the creative power of capitalism while ensuring a minimal level of social welfare, including guaranteed access to some kind of work. Even now, some societies, like Japan and Sweden, have managed to construct a facsimile of that trade-off. Although capitalism is too powerful, perhaps even too "natural," an economic organism to be displaced by any other ideology now within view, its manifest destiny is painfully gradual humanization. That Republican defeat on Social Security in 1935 was the harbinger, given enough time, of a much wider Rise of the Low People a century later. Already huge, the multiplying numbers of low people will in the end prove too large for a capitalism intent on its own survival to ignore.

EdNote: This is the third of four editorials on Difference.



 EdNote: The following excerpt is cited from an essay in The New Republic (November 2, 1998, p. 56).

 

A FRACTIOUS FUTURE FOR GLOBAL CAPITALISM

 Practically all discussion on institutional reform in the world economy assumes that our objective is--or should be--a functioning global capitalist system. It is taken for granted that an integrated world market will deliver the goods as long as we can contain some of its excesses and imbalances. The policy challenge within this frame of reference is: How do we make the world safe for free trade in goods, services, and capital?

But global capitalism is inherently impracticable. We have never truly had a global capitalist system and are unlikely to have one anytime soon. Capitalism is, and will remain, a national phenomenon. Therefore, the real policy challenge is: How do we make the world safe for different brands of national capitalism to prosper side by side? Until we make a conceptual leap and choose to address the second question instead of the first, we are not going to come to grips with the real issues and provide workable solutions to our global predicament.

 To understand why, it helps to go back to The Great Transformation by the economic anthropologist Karl Polanyi, which was first published in 1944. Polanyi took issue with the nineteenth-century liberal idea of a self-regulating market. He argued that markets could not exist outside the web of social relations for long without tragic consequences. Indeed, he interpreted the turmoil of the interwar period and its aftermath--the collapse of the gold standard, the decline into protectionism and bilateralism, the rise of fascism and national socialism, and ultimately World War II--as the result of societies rising to protect themselves from the onslaught of the unregulated market.

 Polanyi's enduring insight is that markets are sustainable only insofar as they are embedded in social and political institutions. These institutions serve three functions without which markets cannot survive: they regulate, stabilize, and legitimate market outcomes. That is why every functioning society has regulatory bodies that prevent unfair competition and fraud, monetary and fiscal institutions that help smooth out the boom-bust cycle, as well as social insurance schemes that help bring market outcomes into conformity with a society's preferences regarding the distribution of risks and rewards.

 It is trite but true to say that none of these institutions exists at the global level. Otherwise, the ramifications of the Asian and Russian financial crises would not have been as serious: a global central bank would have provided the liquidity needed to avert the global financial panic, and global unemployment insurance would have taken care of the millions of Asians thrown out of work. This clarifies a central point: true global capitalism cannot exist short of some form of world government. 

Yet the creation of such strong supranational institutions would require not only a willingness to give up national sovereignty but a considerable degree of transnational consensus as to what constitutes a desirable set of social arrangements. Neither is about to happen, for a second lesson of history is that there is no single blueprint for embedding a market economy in society. 

So it is futile to discuss international economic reform as if global capitalism existed or could be established in short order. The conundrum of those working within that conceptual realm is that they can offer either effective solutions or realistic ones, but not both. Hence official ideas coming out of Washington are perforce inadequate because they have to be politically realistic--that is, based on the reality that global federalism is not around the corner. More ambitious ideas, such as the creation of a global Fed, are technically superior, but utterly unrealistic in view of the way that the world is organized politically.



 

EdNote: The following excerpt is cited from an essay in the Atlantic Monthly (5/98, 56) by Bill McKibben.

The world is still growing, at nearly a record pace-­we add a New York City every month, almost a Mexico every year, almost an India every decade. But the rate of growth is slowing; it is no longer "exponential," "unstoppable," "inexorable," "unchecked," "cancerous." If current trends hold, the world's population will all but stop growing before the twenty-first century is out.

 And that will be none too soon. . . . The population has grown more since 1950 than it did during the previous four million years. The reasons for our recent rapid growth are pretty clear. Although the Industrial Revolution speeded historical growth rates considerably, it was really the public-health revolution, and its spread to the Third World at the end of the Second World War, that set us galloping. Vaccines and antibiotics came all at once, and right behind came population. . . . How much difference did this make? Consider the United States: if people died throughout this century at the same rate as they did at its beginning, America's population would be 140 million, not 276 million.

 If it is relatively easy to explain why populations grew so fast after the Second World War, it is much harder to explain why the growth is now slowing. Experts confidently supply answers, some of them contradictory: "Development is the best contraceptive"--or education, or the empowerment of women, or hard times that force families to postpone having children. For each example there is counterexample. Ninety-seven percent of women in the Arab sheikhdom of Oman know about contraception, and yet they average more than six children apiece. Turks have used contraception at about the same rate as the Japanese, but their birth rate is twice as high. And so on. It is not AIDS that will slow population growth, except in a few African countries. It is not horrors like the civil war in Rwanda, which claimed half a million lives--a loss the planet can make up for in two days. All that matters is how often individual men and women decide that they want to reproduce.

 Will the drop continue? It had better. . . . If fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion.



 

EdNote: The following column appeared in The Toronto Star on October 4, 1998 (page F3).

 A handy way to understand why the world's economy is in such fragile condition these days­-potentially a catastrophic condition--is to flip through the just-released report of the International Labour organization based in Geneva. 

According to the ILO, a record 1 billion workers around the world are either unemployed or underemployed. This is one-third of all the workers in all countries. The picture, said the report's chief author Rashid Amjad, is "very depressing." The Asian economic meltdown has already added 30 million, directly or indirectly, to the total. In Indonesia, those in outright poverty have quadrupled, from 22 million to 80 million. In Russia, wages, when they are actually paid, are at 60 per cent of their levels a decade ago.

 All these people--many more if now-threatened Brazil goes down--are unwilling conscripts into Karl Marx's famous "reserve army of the unemployed." This was the term Marx used to describe his dictum that capitalism depends upon the safety valve of a permanent supply of unemployed workers. Without it, the system would constantly overheat (or inflate) as those corporations that were expanding attracted the additional workers they needed by ever-higher pay. 

The difference between Marx's century-old insight and today's reality is that now that the economy has gone global, the ranks of that reserve army are almost literally limitless. Corporations looking for cheap workers--also for governments that won't bother them with details like taxes, environmental laws, health and safety regulations--can shuffle their factories around the world endlessly. (Modern communications and transportation systems, as well as the expansion of English into a universal language, make factories easy to move and easy to control from a distance.)

 This, vast, largely voiceless, army of the global unemployed ensures that inflation is now an impossibility: All those jobless workers will forever undercut each others' wages.

 For exactly the same reason, the converse phenomenon of deflation, or of falling prices--the economic force that precipitated the depression of the 1930s--is a near-certainty now that there are unlimited numbers of workers desperate to work for almost nothing and able to do this in plants that can be set up on just about any patch of level ground anywhere in the world.

To describe this situation in another way, our global economy has an almost unlimited capacity to manufacture goods at minimal prices but, because of that relentless downward pressure on wages, it is constantly threatened by a serious shortfall in the demand for these goods (more exactly, in peoples' ability to pay for them). 

The Asian meltdown has both contracted global demand and increased the world's supply capacity (through all those newly unemployed workers). In response, the world's institutions and experts have shrunk demand still further. In exchange for its bailout loans to crippled countries like Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, subsequently, Russia, the International Monetary Fund has demanded that these governments raise interest rates and cut their spending.

 This is what Herbert Hoover did at the start of the depression in the 1930s.

 The downward spiral that started last year is curving on downward, for lack of demand for all the goods that everyone can produce. In its latest forecast, the IMF has cut its estimate of global growth this year by half.

Its new estimate is probably too optimistic. China, until now seemingly little affected, experienced a 3 per cent drop in its exports in August as other Asian countries, desperate for dollars, cut their export prices. Devaluation of the yuan, which would force all other Asian countries (Japan included) to devalue competitively their own currencies, is becoming an increasing possibility for 1999. Japan's latest economic statistics are the worst in quarter of a century. Brazil is now wobbling.

 At long last, the IMF has blinked--at itself. Admitting, in its report issued this week, that "the risks of a deeper, wider and more prolonged economic downturn have now escalated," the IMF is suddenly talking about lower global interest rates. As well, there is suddenly talk that exchange controls may, at least temporarily, be necessary. 

Simultaneously, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board has blinked. This week, it organized a $3.5 billion bailout of the bankrupt hedge fund, Long-Term Credit Management. This is the exact opposite of the policy the U.S. has been urging on the Japanese--to let their banks fail in order to reform the system. 

It's all terribly late. This week's one-quarter point cut in U.S. and Canadian interest rates was an irrelevant gesture. But, at least, and at last, the world's institutions and experts seem to have become aware that they are repeating history, potentially tragically.

 



PARROT: Recitations

"Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presently to disclose itself. . . . Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end. There is not a piece of science. but its flank may be turned tomorrow; there is not any literary reputation, not the so- called eternal names of fame, that may not be reviled and condemned. The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind, are all at the mercy of a new generalization. Generalization is always a new influx of the divinity into the mind. Hence the thrill that attends it."



POSSUM (Passim):

 

STUDIES IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: IT'S THE MONEY, STUPID!

 "A close California [Senate] race will siphon Republican dollars from around the country, right up to Election Day. California campaigns can spend $1 million in a few days. But $3 million-­an extra million behind Republican Senate candidates in South Carolina, Nevada and Kentucky­-might switch three currently Democratic seats. Hence the national importance of the fact that [Republican Matt] Fong may be pulling ahead of [Democrat Barbara] Boxer [in California]."

 --George Will, staunch opponent of campaign finance reform,in Durham Herald-Sun (10/18/98) 


THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL SCIENCE:

 "If contemporary scholars work to encourage the consilience of knowledge, I believe, the enterprises of culture will eventually devolve into science--by which I mean the natural sciences--and the humanities, particularly the creative arts. These domains will continue to be the two great branches of learning in the twenty-first century. Social science will split within each of its disciplines, a process already rancorously begun, with one part folding into or becoming continuous with biology, and the other fusing with the humanities. Its disciplines will continue to exist but in radically altered form. In the process the humanities, embracing philosophy, history, moral reasoning, comparative religion, and interpretation of the arts, will draw closer to the sciences and partly fuse with them."

--Edward O. Wilson, Atlantic Monthly 3/98 (62)


  THE FUTURE OF LIBERAL STUDIES: 

"[In] American post-secondary education. . . as many students get degrees in business as in all the liberal arts and sciences together, and fewer than 3 percent of all degrees are in English, the field that provides most of the occasions for shock and outrage, if shock and outrage are still possible." 

--Nathan Glazer, in NYTBR 8/26/98 (7)


OUR DIGITAL FUTURE:

"But a shadow has fallen. 'It is only slightly facetious,' wrote RAND researcher Jeff Rothenberg in Scientific American, 'to say that digital information lasts forever­-or five years, whichever comes first.'

 Digitalized media do have some attributes of immortality. They possess great clarity, great universality, great reliability, and great economy­digital storage is already so compact and cheap it is essentially free. . . . [But] behind every hot new working computer is a trail of bodies of extinct computers, extinct storage media, extinct applications, extinct files. . . .

Buried with them are whole clans of programming languages, operating systems, storage formats, and countless rotting applications in an infinite variety of mutually incompatible versions. Everything written on them was written on the wind, leaving not a trace."

 ­-Stewart Brand, Civilization (10/11, 1998, 71-72)


 WHERE THE WEST COMMENCES:

 "By the middle of the next century 98 percent of Arizonans will live in just four cities: Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Yuma. . . . The Arizona pattern suggests what is happening throughout the West, as small towns die and suburbs around big cities grow by an acre an hour. Despite its mythic grandeur, the West is actually the most urbanized part of the United States."

--Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly 8/98 (56)


LIVES OF THE NOBILITY:

 "The fourth Earl Russell, son of Bertrand Russell, . . . once rose to his feet in the House of Lords and confided to his 'startled' peers that Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev were one and the same person. . . . Visitors to his home were proudly shown a pair of pants hanging from a nail. His Lordship explained that he had crocheted them from string, adding, 'I didn't have a pattern. I had to keep trying them on.'"

--Anthony Lane, The New Yorker 7/27/98 (76)


 EMINENT BUMS:

 "[In] the spring of 1933, all across the country desperate young men were reaching for the grab irons of boxcars. For a time during the Great Depression, more than a million men entered the world of the American hobo. . . . Americans prize success, so it might be tempting to write all hoboes off as losers who couldn't find a place in the national dream, simply another addition in the lexicon of America's outcasts, whom we know a bums and drifters, as vagrants and the homeless. Yet the ranks of hoboes and of rail-riding laborers during the lean years included such future notables as novelist Louis L'Amour, TV host Art Linkletter, oil billionaire H. L. Hunt, journalist Eric Sevareid and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, to name a few." 

-­James R. Chiles, Smithsonian 8/98 (67)


WHAT'S IN A NAME?

"In 1984, when [Stephen] King wrote 'Thinner' and decided, on a whim, to give [his pseudonym Richard] Bachman the byline, . . . a Literary Guild reader lauded the novel as 'what Stephen King would write like if Stephen King could write.'"

-­Mark Singer, The New Yorker 9/7/98 (61)



EDITORIAL POLICY:

  The Faculty Forum is published monthly by the Academic Council of Duke University.

Editor: Victor Strandberg (English). Editorial Advisory Board: Matt Cartmill (Biological Anthropology & Anatomy), Howard Clark (Biomedical Engineering), Buford Jones (English), Seymour Mauskopf (History--on leave), and Kathy Rudy (Women's Studies).

The purpose of the Faculty Forum is to provide an opportunity for faculty members to discuss topics of common interest. The FF therefore welcomes, and indeed depends on, contributions by faculty members. Contributions may be published anonymously, but the editor will need to know the identity of all contributors so as to authenticate the contribution and permit appropriate editing procedures. We welcome fact, opinion, and creative whimsy from across the wide range of Arts & Sciences and Professional Schools--book reviews (new or reprinted), short essays, serendipitous items from random reading, and voices from the eternal kulturkampf.

Contributions of every kind should be sent, in both print and (if lengthy) computer disk, to the editor,Victor Strandberg, in 315 Allen Building. Voicemail is 684-3976; no objection to calls at home, 489-5531. E-mail is vhs@duke.edu FAX (English department) is 919-684-4871. The deadline for submissions is about the 25th of each month.