Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Spirit

"Yeah I'm sorry, I can't afford a Ferrari,

But that don't mean I can't get you there.

I guess he's an Xbox and I'm more Atari,

But the way you play your game ain't fair.”
Cee-Lo Green

Tuesday I had lunch with cafeteria regular Alan Lindmark, about to retire but pledging to return occasionally. I got into a discussion with Jean Poulard, who admitted using a test question asking students to explain why JFK’s foreign policy was a fiasco. I argued that if Kennedy had taken the actions Poulard advocated in Cuba, Berlin, and Vietnam, it could easily have led to a nuclear war. Comparing him to Reagan, I concluded that while Kennedy used combative rhetoric at times due to political realities, his main accomplishment was to prevent the Cold War from escalating into war between the superpowers. In fact, after the 1962 missile crisis he took steps to move haltingly toward détente with Nikita Khrushchev.

A Ray Smock essay on the History Hews Network website entitled “Newt Gingrich the Galactic Historian” mentioned Newt’s fascination with Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy and suggests that protagonist and psycho-historian Hari Seldon is his role model. The articles generated many responses, including this one that Ray particularly liked: “This article settles it, there is N.O.T.H.I.N.G. conservative about Newt Gingrich, he is just a power hungry totalitarian unprincipled fruitcake who will make life hell if elected just as sure as any 20th century communist or fascist dictator would.” I emailed Ray: “Thanks to you, I have spent hours on the HNN website, including perusing the considerable reaction to your piece. Michael Lowry said it well, calling Newt a pandering hypocrite who nonetheless has two useful political skills, the inability to feel shame and the ability to speak confidently even while uttering obvious falsehoods.”

I sent Vice Chancellor David Malik a proposal to fund Steel Shavings in return for my contributions to the Calumet Regional Archives. I wrote: “Since our conversation on making Steel Shavings magazine self-sustaining, I have been mulling over various options. The best course, I believe, would be to set up a fund within the Steel Shavings account to cover publications, travel, research, and special events. The cost, $11,000 (a sum equal to a single Summer Faculty Fellowship), would not only cover publication costs of future magazine issues (that’s where the lion’s share of the money would go) but allow for other activities associated with the Archives, including new outreach initiatives. In return for obtaining the funding, I would continue to serve as unpaid co-director of the Calumet Regional Archives, assisting researchers, collecting “treasures” (as Steve McShane refers to acquisitions), planning special events (such as bringing speakers to campus who have published books about the history of Northwest Indiana), and doing other useful tasks as befits my expertise as a regional historian. Since Steve McShane is the Steel Shavings account manager (21-601-72), he would oversee the expenditures, as could others in the chain of command, including the librarian and the campus chief financial officer. Even though I will be eligible next year to earn money for my services to the university, I believe this to be a better course than my requesting compensation for activities in connection with the magazine and the Archives. One way to proceed would be to allocate a one-time funding that would allow publication of volume 42 in the Steel Shavings series and then assess whether to include the item in future annual budgets. In addition, by not allocating the funds to me personally, the way is open for a successor to eventually become the editor of the magazine.”

Wearing to IUN’s Holiday Party an IUN polo shirt from when I worked the Porter County fair, I splashed much gravy on my turkey, mashed potatoes, and filling, had two cups of un-spiked egg nog, and chatted with retired professors Leroy Peterson and Mike Certa, among others. A deejay was blasted music at a volume that made conversation difficult, but I liked the selections and folks were line dancing. Immediately following “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” came Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You.” I listened closely when it came on to see whether it was the x-rated version. JoAnn Hurak, who used to work for Purchasing, hadn’t heard that they phased out her office in favor of a centralized, all campus system. Her granddaughter used to live across from us at Maple Place, and both dogs that used to bark all night when she wasn’t home have since died. She mentioned getting a phone call from her old boss Murray Taylor from a nursing home but he hung up before she could get his address or phone number.

DeeDee Ige and Vernon Smith want me to be on a committee to study how to enhance IUN’s image within the Gary community. I’m happy to oblige. There was a time years ago when the administration sought to downplay being in Gary, but that hasn’t been the case for some time. Maybe I can push having an event honoring Thelma Marshall and bringing in Gregg Andrews, the author of the Thyra J. Edwards book.

Watched my teammates win game one in bowling and then at home put on the end of the Maryland basketball game. They beat Florida International, coached by former IU star Isaiah Thomas. Then I switched to the Blackhawks, who won an overtime shootout with Minnesota thanks to their young duo of Toews and Kane.

On Facebook Sam Barnett wrote: “The paper of this student who always reeks of cigarettes reeks of cigarettes. This one is staying at work tonight. My clothes reek so much after bowling that I keep my jacket in the garage and immediately strip down and throw my clothes in the laundry room.

Niece Andrea has invited me to come to the Big Island of Hawaii for a week in early January while she, her husband, and son Joe are there. Tom Dietz is going with me. It should be great.

Among those honored at the Retirement Reception were Alan Lindmark in Chemistry, Ken Schoon in Education, and two longtime staff members and really good people whose positions were phased out, Jan Taylor in Printing Services and Marianne Malyj in Purchasing. Also Donald Young, one of my top ten favorite students is stepping down as a police officer. When I interviewed him for the History of IUN Shavings issue, he praised General Stusies director Bob Lovely, Communication professor DeeDee Ige, and Chief Andy Lazar for their faith in him. He had funny stories about being hazed by veteran officers and interrupting lovers at the outer edges of the parking lots. He was also the first bicycle patrol officer and a really nice fellow. I had intended to say a few remarks about Don, but the program was set up basically to have only one person per retiree speak (although jean Poulard, as usual, got up and went on about how he and Lindmark are best friends despite their political differences). The police lieutenant who talked about Don started with what he said was an Elizabeth Taylor quote to her husband: “I won’t keep you long.” I told Marianne afterwards that I still recall fondly her singing “Taking Care of Business” at pro-Business Division Chancellor Dan Orescanin’s retirement roast.

John Davies presided over the annual Legends induction at the Welcome Center that honored four Medal of Honor recipients, four Nobel Prize winners, and the Jacksons. On the program to explain the selection process and then to describe why the Jackson Five were worthy of being inducted, Steve McShane introduced me as the area’s preeminent historian. Nice. On hand was the widow of Emilio De La Garza, who died in Vietnam and the brother of another Medal of Honor winner Danny Bruce. IUN Business professor Steve Dunphy did a good job talking about the four Nobel Prize winners, including biochemist Ferid Murad, born in Whiting, whose work with nitric oxide led to the marketing of Viagra. Thanks to Harry Vande Velde, of the Legacy Foundation, an excellent book about the all the Legends on the Wall has been produced for fourth graders. I took home two of them for the grandkids to take to their school.

1 comment:

  1. if newt is a sociopathic liar ( and he is ) then , by extension, so are all politicians. the government for and by special interest founded in 1789 reduces elections to, "...that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of competitive struggle for the people's vote." [joseph shumpeter,"capitalism, socialism, and democracy.] there is no common good, only interests, but politicians are bound to the democratic forms used to rationalize power so they have to pretend there is a common good while making decisions based on issues of import to special interest groups. so they evades substantive debate of real issues like the plauge because that would expose the system for the sham it is...the poor bastards are forced to lie like rugs to hold onto their jobs. ( did you get the "congressman pete visclosky fights for american manufacturing jobs" mailing...or is that for union consumption only?)