Friday, September 27, 2013

What's wrong with North Dakota?

This sign can be seen on I-29, heading north from Fargo to Grand Forks. It is mentioned in the article

I must admit, the title of this blog entry is a bit misleading. This post isn't really about what's wrong with North Dakota, although it kind of is, depending on your point of view. It is actually just an excuse to post an outstanding article from one of IPPL's board members, Brian Schill.

Brian has been thinking about North Dakota his entire life. He was born and raised in Grand Forks and still lives here. He teaches in the Honors Program at UND and has two wonderful children who both go to the Grand Forks public schools. I share this information, because he has written an impressive critique of the North Dakota surveillance culture and what it's like to be perennially watched and judged. It is an intriguing view from an insider.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Does a University Need a Library? A response to a response to a response.


 The University of North Dakota is cutting almost $600,000 from its library's materials acquisition budget. A colleague of mine argued that this is a blessing in disguise and I disagreed. This is the next installment of our back and forth. You can find his original remarks here and my response here. He then offered his latest rebuttal here.

My last blog post was an argument in favor of fully funding universities libraries. I understand that for some PQED readers, this may seem like an obscure debate about a particular university, but it isn’t. It’s tremendously important because it speaks to the future of all libraries and because it highlights three very common philosophical errors. I shall call them:

1.     ‘I Got Mine, Jack’ Syndrome.
2.     Crisis is the new normal.
3.     The Cheaper in the Short Run Equals Cheaper in the Long Run fallacy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Does a University Need a Library? A response.

A colleague of mine wrote a very interesting blog post titled “Does a University Need a Library?” It is inspired by the almost $600,000 in budget cuts foisted upon The University of North Dakota’s Chester Fritz Library’s Material’s budget. This is the money that the library uses to buy books, journals, magazines, and other print and digital research media. Since the budget cut is from Materials, they cannot, for example, close the library one day a week, or open a few hours later to save money. The have to make the library a lesser institution, cutting down the collection, making sure that this round of cuts has a permanent impact.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why should we care what stupid people think?

Sunday night, a new Miss America was crowned. As soon as Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, an American of Indian descent, was declared the winner, Twitter was awash with racist hate-filled tweets. According to Buzzfeed, they objected to a “foreigner” winning the title, and many called her an Arab, expressing horror that she won so close to 9-11.

First off, calling someone an Arab is not an insult. Let’s get that out of the way immediately.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How amateurish should flash mobs be?

I will publicly admit that I like a good flash mob. I know they’re passé, but the ones with music get to me. They remind me that art can be anywhere and that the world is full of creative surprises. Living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where spontaneous art rarely happens (even though it’s a college town), this reminder feels particularly important. I think if I were walking somewhere with my daughter and a high-quality musical extravaganza burst out, I would weep with joy.

Speaking of joy, today, a friend on Facebook shared this video.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Should there be national standards for education?

This is the text of the monologue from tonight's episode of Why? Radio. To hear the entire episode and a detailed conversation about national standards for education, please click here.

I was at a kids’ soccer game yesterday and spent most of the time listening to a man who could say nothing nice to his eight-year old daughter. Every mistake was shouted across the field; every success was greeted with silence. When she was on the sidelines he reviewed all the things she did wrong and then, when he actually realized he was being negative, he shifted to the worst compliment of all: “you did much better, this time.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Announcing the 2013-2014 season of WHY? Radio!

Why? Philosophical Discussions about Everyday Life
2013-2014 Season

All episodes are broadcast at 5 p.m. central time.
To subscribe via podcast, visit

First episode this Sunday!

September 8:
“Should there be national standards fo­­­r education?”
Guest: Michael Apple

October 13:
“The Unity of the Sciences: Is all knowledge connected?”
Guest: Joseph Margolis