Paradise lost by the dashboard lights

I remember every little thing , as if it happened only yesterday.

Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe

And I never had a girl, Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school, They were wishing they were me that night

Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all Temples th’ upright heart and pure,

And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife

Who first seduc’d them to that foul revolt?
Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d

Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light

The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equal’d the most High,

Ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed

‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed

Ain’t no doubt about it
Baby got to go out and shout it
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed

No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv’d onely to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace [ 65 ]
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum’d:

Baby don’cha hear my heart
You got it drowing out the radio
I’ve been waiting so long
For you to come along and have some fun
And I gotta let you know
No you’re never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes, I got a big surprise
It’ll feel all right
Well I wanna make you motor run

Cloth’d with transcendent brightness didst out-shine
Myriads though bright: If he Whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the Glorious Enterprize,
Joynd with me once, now misery hath joynd

Do you love me
Will you love me forever
Do you need me
Will you never leave me

To whom mild answer Adam thus return’d.
Sole Eve, Associate sole, to me beyond
Compare above all living Creatures deare,
Well hast thou motion’d, well thy thoughts imployd
How we might best fulfill the work which here [ 230 ]
God hath assign’d us, nor of me shalt pass
Unprais’d: for nothing lovelier can be found
In Woman, then to studie houshold good,

Do you love me
Will you love me forever
Do you need me
Will you never leave me

And good workes in her Husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos’d [ 235 ]
Labour, as to debarr us when we need
Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse

I gotta know right now
Do you love me
Will you love me forever
Do you need me
Will you never leave me
Will you make me so happy
For the rest of my life
Will you take me away
And will you make me your wife
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me
And will you love me forever

O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordain’d them, his creating hand
Nothing imperfet or deficient left [ 345 ]
Of all that he Created, much less Man,
Or aught that might his happie State secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receave no harme.

I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god
And on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore I would love you to the end of time

With thy permission then, and thus forewarnd
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
Touchd onely, that our trial, when least sought, 
May finde us both perhaps farr less prepar’d,
The willinger I goe, nor much expect
A Foe so proud will first the weaker seek,
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.

Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad’st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.

So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you

Our lingring Parents, and to th’ Eastern Gate
Led them direct, and down the Cliff as fast
To the subjected Plaine; then disappeer’d. 
They looking back, all th’ Eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,
Wav’d over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces throng’d and fierie Armes:
Som natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon; 
The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.

 

Apologies to Milton, Meat Loaf, and Steinman

 

Dashboards

I have owned a lot of cars. Too many, perhaps. Frequently I think back to that first car of mine: a bright yellow, 1977 Ford Pinto with a six cylinder engine. It was fast, light, and dangerous. Most of my cars and trucks since then have been improvements. (However, even with the Chevy 350 engine I put in a 74 Vega, it still needed more to be an improvement.)

Dashboards have changed a lot since 1977. There is almost no similarity between the dashboard of a ’77 Pinto and a 2015 Explorer. The basics are there – miles traveled, fuel and speed and a handful of idiot lights. A late-model car often has so much on the dash that one needs to spend a fair amount learning what’s there, what the options are, and what various icons and lights mean.

Last week a friend sent me this link The laws of shitty dashboards. There is a lot of truth here (however, more sensitive readers will need to work to overcome the overuse of the word shitty.) It has a lot of corollary to higher education dashboards as I’m pretty sure all higher ed dashboards are crap.

The dashboard on my Pinto told me how fast I was going and how much fuel I had. There were also a couple of small gauges for oil pressure and coolant temperature. If bad things happened to certain engine components, an idiot light would come on alerting the driver, “Hey, this is bad news!”

And the values changed on the gauges. Moment by moment.

And the information was useful. It was immediately actionable, if needed. Or I knew that immediate (at least very soon) action was needed.

In a new Explorer (or most other new cars), things aren’t much different. There is more information, such as average fuel economy, 4WD drive status (including amount of action directed to front and rear axles), navigational information, cell phone status, and sometimes much more. There are often choices in how to display the information.

In the end though, the key focus points are speed and fuel, followed closely by miles traveled (which is a function of speed, fuel, and time). These things still change moment by moment. The rest of the stuff is to help us feel in charge of the greater range of options available and ideally reduce the distractions faced by modern drivers and their toys.

The collection of dashboards I’ve seen for higher ed all seem to miss the point.

First, and this is my rule, “If the data only change once a year, it ain’t a dashboard cuz it ain’t got no dash.”

The speed of a properly functioning car can be changed immediately by application of accelerator or brake. Fuel can be added as needed (and stations are available).

Enrollment, for legitimate institutions at least, cannot be affected the same way. There are windows of time and action, and rules of process, as well as the influence of markets.

I sure as hell hope that degree output cannot be controlled like the speed of a car. If it can be, something is drastically wrong.

Law #6 from the article I linked to is applicable in a lot of ways.

Because it was useful in a PowerPoint doesn’t mean it’s useful on a dashboard.

Bingo! If a dashboard is somehow appropriate (and I am pretty sure a dashboard for state or national higher education issues never will be appropriate), there is probably little likelihood that if it is a good dashboard it will consist of charts from assorted PowerPoints.

There is an awful lot of literature on dashboards, decision support systems, executive information systems, scorecards, and the like. Before you build one, please RTFL – Read The Friendly Literature and always RFC – Read For Comprehension. There is already enough crap on the Web and enough bad decisions in higher ed. Let’s not add to it.