Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slate speaks up about the place

"Perhaps SMU's board of trustees will see the folly in erecting a propaganda mill on campus. Then again, the board of trustees' most famous member is also its most politically prominent alumna."

Thus ends today's regurg of the whole megillah about the 'brary on Slate. Read the rest here.

Is it snowing where you are? Big fat frozen flakes are flying sideways past my second-floor office window right this very minute.

Big fat frozen flakes. Reminds me of my most recent blind date.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Stephen Colbert, I worship thee

Comedy's Central's The Colbert Report comments on the wuss factor among the faculty re: The Decider Library. Click here for the clip from last night's show, in which our host declares that he is someone who "loves our president and hates books."

Don't bother me today, as I am busy building a personal shrine to the genius of Herr Colbert.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Kool-Aid anyone?

They've drunk the brew over at the university. Pussies. Big, soft pussies. reports (via AP) how the tiny squeaks of protest about the Library de la Bush have been silenced.

To read the faculty gobbledygook firsthand, there's the Bush Library Blog.

I'd suggest inundating their in-boxes with empty packs of Kool-Aid, but that campus is to protest what Britney Spears is to modesty. Or talent. Or motherhood.

Take your pick.

Monday, January 22, 2007

And 'round we go again

My Dallas Observer colleague Jim Schutze blogs about Library Bush today in response to the Dallas Morning Snooze's editorial in support of the edifice complex:

The Morning News editorial page’s notion that this president’s library can be some kind of high-minded forum is a pathetic self-delusion, an ugly joke and a monstrous lie. What Dallas and SMU will get from George W. will be a huge neon phallus, lit by lasers, intended to deflect attention from what history is about to do to his real one. And to us.
Read the entire Schutze blog entry at Unfair Park.

Know that phrase "teachable moment"? Seems there could be a great many teachable moments in this university's classes about the liberry sitch-ee-ay-shun. Ethics classes, political science, debate, history, public relations, theology--every one of them should be discussing it and assigning essays and research papers on the topic.

Like, what do presidential libraries really do? What do they add to the other institutions they're attached to (such as Bush 41's at A&M)? Which of them gets the most visitors each year? Which one loses money and costs taxpayers to keep it open?

And what has this president contributed to the cause of education? Specifically, to higher education?

How will a conservative "think tank," part of the library deal, peg this school as conservative-welcome/liberal-be-damned? How will the diversity of the student body and the faculty feel the impact of such an influx of far-righties? How soon before it's little more than the western campus of Bob Jones U.?

And what about the security issues? Land use issues? How will the building of the Bush 43 pyramid of power affect the neighborhood that surrounds it? This is a landlocked area, surrounded on one side by a freeway that's already a parking lot at rush hours, and on the other three sides by narrow residential streets that can hardly handle heavy traffic by big machinery, trucks and other construction vehicles.

So many issues, so little time.

And to all those Methodists, faculty members and others who are just now waking up to the reality of this awful carbuncle about to be planted on University Park and are making pathetic little squeaks of dissent, where the fuck were you six years ago?

Friday, January 12, 2007

'Round the Library Bush Part 2

Where were all these professors three or four years ago when the school first invited the Bushies to build their library/museum/think-tank there? Complaining now seems like empty, face-saving posturing. From today's New York Times...

January 10, 2007
S.M.U. Faculty Complains About Bush Library
DALLAS, Jan. 9 — Intimates of President Bush have singled out Southern Methodist University as the likely site of his presidential library, but faculty members, complaining of being bypassed, are raising sharp questions about the school’s identification with his presidency.

In a meeting Tuesday, faculty members complained of a lack of consultation over the emerging agreement and all but demanded answers from the university’s president, R. Gerald Turner, on the relationship that would develop between the university and the library.

“There’s been a lack of transparency from the beginning,” said Tony Pederson of the journalism faculty, urging the university’s administration “to be more forthcoming with detailed information.”

Cal Jillson, a political science professor, called for “more rounded information” because, he said, “this train is leaving.” He said there could be a final decision on the library before the end of the month.

Rhonda Blair, the president of the faculty senate who convened the meeting even though many professors were still away on winter break, said she would pass on the questions to Dr. Turner on Wednesday.

The session grew out of the uproar after an op-ed article in the student newspaper, The Daily Campus, by two professors at the university’s Perkins School of Theology complaining about the library selection process.

The president and Laura Bush created the George W. Bush Presidential Library Site Selection Committee, which is headed by former Commerce Secretary Donald P. Evans and also includes Marvin Bush, the president’s brother; Andrew H. Card, the former White House chief of staff; and Craig R. Stapleton, the United States ambassador to France.

Mr. Evans revealed on Dec. 21 that the panel was setting aside two other contenders, Baylor University in Waco and the University of Dallas in Irving, to pursue exclusive discussions with Southern Methodist, the alma mater of Mrs. Bush and an institution long close to the Bushes. Mr. Bush graduated from Yale and Harvard.

Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for Mr. Evans, said Tuesday that he was not granting interviews at this stage of the selection process.

“The selection committee is now focusing their discussions on S.M.U.; however, no final decision has been made,” Mr. Griffin said. He said the final decision was expected to be reached within “a few months,” although others have estimated the process could be completed within weeks.

Mr. Griffin said he could not discuss the criteria for the selection process, and he said issues concerning financing of the library and control of content, including interaction between the policy institute and the library, had not been decided.

“The committee has been focused on the selection of the site rather than fund-raising decisions,” Mr. Griffin said. “It could vary depending on what the site would be. We are in an early phase in the process, and those decisions about how much money will need to be raised will come later.”

The complex under discussion would include a public policy institute independent of the university and answerable to a Bush foundation, while the library and a museum would be under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration. But control of presidential documents remains a subject of dispute.

About 150 of the university’s 600 faculty members attended the meeting, voicing a range of concerns, particularly on whether the school’s academic freedom and political independence might appear compromised by an association with not only the Bush library but also a museum that would accompany it.

Thomas J. Knock, a professor of history, said the public might have trouble differentiating between the library, museum and the university.

James K. Hopkins, chairman of the history department who was co-chairman of the meeting with Ms. Blair, a professor of theater, said he had asked Dr. Turner under what circumstances the university would “walk away” from a deal with the library.

“There was this very indirect response to that,” Dr. Hopkins said.

Ms. Blair said that it was not clear how much negotiating S.M.U. could do with the presidential library committee but that she would bring it up with Dr. Turner, who she said would soon meet with the faculty himself.

But Rita Kirk, chairwoman of the department of communications and public affairs, said the “wall” that would exist between Southern Methodist and the Bush library would allow for “robust debate” academically and afford scholars important access to papers of Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice, among other administration figures.

Some of the faculty questions dealt with the cost of the library — published accounts have it as high as $500 million — including how much the school would be responsible for and whether raising the money might hurt the school’s own financial campaigns.

“We view the discussions that are taking place on campus as a very positive part of the process and one we’re very accustomed to here at S.M.U.,” said Brad Cheves, the university’s vice president for development and external affairs, shortly after leaving the faculty meeting.

“We glad that our colleagues feel comfortable to share their views with each other and with all of us,” Dr. Cheves said. But he said that S.M.U. had not detected widespread opposition among the faculty or others about the Bush library.

“At this point we have nothing that indicates that the support is anything but strong,” he said. “The feedback we’re getting clearly represents the diversity of thought that you would expect in a constituency as large as S.M.U.’s.”

Gretel Christina Kovach contributed reporting.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Here we go 'round the Library Bush

The new dean of the arts on the hill is almost too cool for the school. Wow. Good profile in the DMN today. If I'd been working for him instead of under the wizened old pigeon....

And from Pegasus News, the letter from the university prez regarding the Bush-Libe.

Check out this week's Dallas Observer (on stands today in most close-in neighborhoods) for my feature on the outdoor fitness bootcamp I've been doing for six weeks and the trend toward grown-ups playing outside for exercise.

Movie recommendation: Wordplay. Documentary about Will Shortz, the crosswords editor at the New York Times. Just my kind of sexy nerd-guy. Seriously cute. I saw the flick on On-Demand cable, but it's also out on DVD. It's porn for word-heads. Let me heap on the e-c-l-a-t (five-letter word for acclaim).

Monday, January 08, 2007

Shouldn't these be called "bare mitzvahs"?

In my day it was "streaking." Now the Ivies have "naked parties."

Read about it here. Then jump in the time machine to 2020 when some of these smart 'n' skivvy-less seniors are running for Congress or going up for partner at the firm. Mark your calendar for easy blackmail, my friends.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rotary breathing

Headline of the day: "Herpes may cause Alzheimer's." Well, at least the latter makes you forget how you got the former.

Many crushing deadlines keep me from blogging this week. Back with new items and links when I finish with the flurry of journo-work.

Rotary breathing, by the way, is what you call that motion of turning your head out of the water to suck in air during the front crawl stroke. I just like how it sounds. I think it's also like that motion of coming up for air when you're involved in a good snogging session. Kiss, kiss, breathe. Kiss, kiss, breathe. Not that I've had the chance to practice that recently.

Another link to occupy you during my lull. The author is my old college pal, Tim. He writes about film and theater and teaches at my undergrad alma mater. Leave him some comments. His new blog is sadly bereft of good feedback.

This one, The Knife, is fun, too. Combines two of my fave things: showbiz and restaurant reviews.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's the Baum!

NPR's Studio 360 explores all things Oz. The Wizard pervades in art, music, film and all areas of our modern vernacular. But I'll bet you knew that, didn't you, my little friends of Dorothy?

It is true. To wit: I went to a party two weekends ago. The guests included a numerologist (this is my year, he said, and "33" is my number), a man who leads canoe trips down the Trinity River, two gay guys named Bill and two gay guys named Jim (referred to by everyone as "the Bills" and "the Jims"), a woman who teaches college-level history and who recently lost 90 pounds by cutting out sugar, the owner of a vitamin store, a horse trainer who's also a painter, a masseuse who has laid hands on various members of The Rolling Stones, a man who says he talks to whales and dolphins and understands when they talk back, a woman who cooks organic Italian food and the author of a Libertarian newsletter. The hostess, at whose home the party was taking place, showed me a wall festooned with framed photos of her uncle who was--and here's why I'm telling you this--one of the original Munchkins in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

Short list of resolutions for 2007:
1. Swim more.
2. Read more blogs like this and fewer like this.
3. Talk to more strangers.
4. Finish stuff.
5. Avoid over-using the words "compelling" and "weird" in theater reviews, even when shows are both compelling and weird.
6. Less coffee, more water.
7. Make some art.
8. Make some trouble.
9. Make out.
10. Not give up.