Thursday, October 17, 2013

The decline and fall of the village of Mudhole

The NYT has a photo essay about the sad state of the villages along the highway that runs from St. Petersburg to Moscow, in which the villagers encountered along the way lament their neglect at the hands of the Russian government since the fall of the Soviet Union. But I am perplexed. These are places named things like "Cockroachville" and "Black Dirt." If this is how optimistic their first residents were about these locales, how much could they really have declined since their glory days?

"Seminar baboons"

The Maroon has an excellent interview with David Brooks, who I think may have decided to love the U of C precisely the year after I left the place. Among the highlights, advice on selecting a senior thesis topic for history majors:
My senior paper—what I did was I went to the library, I looked at all the archives, and I started with the letter “A,” and I figured I would write about the first person who looked interesting, so I got up to “Ar,” to Robert Ardrey, whose papers had never been looked at. He was a left-wing playwright in the ’30s, and then became sort of an early Darwinian theorist in the ’60s and ’70s. So I wrote about him. I’m probably the only person to ever look at the Robert Ardrey papers at the Reg.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Faculty news from the memory department

Although he died two years ago, I still sometimes think about my college humanities professor in connection with things Greek in my academic life, and since Greek things are unusually prevalent right now thanks to TAing, I've had occasion to think of him often this fall. And when I do think of him, my natural postmodern impulse is to Google him to make sure that the internet also remembers him, and to see if it has perhaps generated something new in the memory department. It's remarkable how one can keep up with the goings on of the dead this way, as though even death were no longer an impediment to continued intellectual output. Most recently, I came across this series of interviews with him from 2009 done by some guy who might be some sort of fringe lefty nut. But that's immaterial to the interviews, in which Sinaiko talks about ancient China (asserting at some point that the present government is a haven for open debate), citizenship, Rome, the Tea Party, and his questionable political opinions. I don't think I ever agreed with his politics, and I'm not going to start now, but it is nice to see these videos.