I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating
across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw
Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs
–Howl, Allen Ginsberg
Will my son say he saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by xBox, chatteringly nervous thumbs, of players with heads bowed by student debt, dragging themselves down poxed highways across rotting bridges, keeping faith with their IBR, as Pabst-drinking hipsters dance like maggots in rotting meat, and music oozes tonelessly with only the beat of a warped tire at 25 mph?
Probably not. My son likely does not know the best minds of his generation.
Have you ever watched a music video on YouTube and scanned the list of “related” videos on the right? Do you ever question the algorithms that defines related? Why does “Our Lips are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s show up with Siouxsie and the Banshees covering The Beatles “Dear Prudence?” Wouldn’t a better option be “We Got the Beat?”
This post is a self-revelatory piece of nonsense for those that can follow the train. But not this train.
And the gold rolled through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin’ other peoples’ clothes
–Sam Stone, John Prine
Once the Research blog goes out on a Friday night, if I have nothing specific to say and do, my mind wonders as the discipline of the week is relaxed.
Unfortunately, while I would like this to mean I am not currently thinking about higher education, I really kind of am. I wonder about the relationships in the data over the past week, the things I saw, the things I didn’t. I worry constantly about unintended bias in our work. The same thing happens when I hike in the summer. If I go a day or two without seeing a snake, I start to worry that I am not paying enough attention. It simply is not enough to trust that I always I see what I am looking at.
We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray
And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
–A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum
Christopher Newfield, a professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has written a fairly stunning review of both Academically Adrift and Aspiring Adults Adrift. Rather than challenge the data or findings, he challenges their facile interpretation. This is one of my favorite things I read this week. It is second only to tweets about me (good ones) and articles where I am quoted. It is really easy to challenge research data. I think it is less easy to challenge the interpretation while offering a good-faith alternative.