Idiots no more

A few weeks back the Sox played the Yanks and Manny decided last minute that his knee was too sore to play. The look on Francona's face said everything: the proverbial straw had finally broke the organization's back. When the ESPN clocked ticked down to zero today without announcement of a trade, I was surprised. Very surprised. Manny was disgruntled, management was fed up. But a deal was made last minute. A new era of Red Sox baseball began, and the era of the idiots drew to a close.

Manny epitomized the spirit of that spirited '04 championship team- as charismatic as they were talented. Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli, Trot Nixon, Pedro Martinez, and, of course, Man-Ram. Francona was as much a ring leader as a manager. Sure they had their straightmen- Jason Varitek comes to mind. But that was a "colorful" bunch.

As Bull Durham taught us, you have to be good to be colorful. Otherwise you are a slob- or in this case, a slacker. Ramirez has given up on the Red Sox before-- and I admit I was worried he might do it again. In L.A., he'll have new surroundings, a more relaxed Californian media, and gentle Joe. Plus the motivation of playing for a contract.

As a 2008 Red Sox fan, I recognize that this is a good move. Manny is not the dominant (the best right-handed hitter in history) force he once was. Yes, his career numbers are significantly better than Bay (Manny: .312 / .409 / .590; Bay: .281 / .375 / .515), but Bay will be playing in a meaningful pennant race for the first time in his career. In other words, there's no chance of this kid giving up. Also, he'll benefit from being surrounded by more talent than he's ever seen in Pittsburgh. There is the possibility that he'll wither under the bright, obsessive lights of the Boston media- I'm thinking of Jeff Suppan a few years ago- and that he'll see less "here's one down the middle because we're ahead by eight and just want to get on the plane" fastballs. Still, the 2008 me is pleased with this as a baseball move.

The rest of me is sad- already tinged with an uncanny nostalgia. The first Red Sox world series meant so much to so many- its sad to see that team go. Varitek is struggling, Schilling is all but gone, and now Manny will wear Dodger blue. At least its not pinstripes.


One More Show

If I could be any where on Thursday, it would be at Memorial Hall in Plymouth, MA for my cousin's real retirement. He always put on a good show, although he made a better villain than hero. He broke his ankle a few years back- that forced him out. I hope everyone around Plymouth enjoys the show.


Nothing's the Matter in Kansas...

...as long as this guy gets elected. I'm a fan of XKCD to begin with, so this is some kind of awesome.


Breaking Radio Silence

I am alive and in Florida. I've been away from my digital life for awhile now- ignoring my email and rss feeds in favor of the new house, state, and job. Red tape is fun. Seriously. But now I have a new I.D. card, computer account (still having trouble w/ my new email), and parking pass (more difficult than it sounds).

While adjusting to Florida in late July is something akin to adjusting to living on the surface of Mercury, I am warming up (har, har) to the new surroundings. The blueness of the sky, proximity of water, and intense sunshine remind me of the summers I spent on Cape Cod as a kid. Rowan enjoys are almost nightly swims in the community pool. I enjoyed the trip to the Banana Republic to buy new clothes for the new job.

So far everyone in the department is really nice and helpful- I have a great office with a window and a view of green things. Pleasant. I'll be teaching two sections of an upper division expository writing class in the Fall, rehashing the Constructing the University syllabus I ran with Rythaniel a few years back. I am tied down to using a textbook, Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, but it doesn't look too painful and I think I can adjust. I've got the course website half done- I'll throw up a link later this week.

So, to all of you waiting to hear from my, I'll check my email sometime tomorrow. Hope all your summers are going well.


Moral of the Story

So, this weekend we spent a lot of time lighting fireworks with the neighbors. Among us was an 8th grader who loved reading. As she listed off a litany of her favorite books, I periodically asked "what was the moral of the story?" Being a good teacher who's always semi-on duty, I explained that there's a difference between knowing what happens in a story and what a story tells us, so to speak, about our lives, feelings, relations, etc.

Then today I was photo-copying a bunch of books before I leave for Florida. Came across this section of Aristotle's Metaphysics:

Experience does not seem to differ from art where something is to be done; in fact, we observe that men of experience succeed more than men who have the theory but have no experience. The cause of this is that experience is knowledge of individuals but art is universal knowledge, and all actions and productions deal with individuals. [...] Nevertheless, we regard understanding and comprehension as belonging to art more than to experience, and we believe that artists are wiser than men of experience, inasmuch as men of understanding know the cause but men of experience do not. For men of experience know the fact but not the why of it; but men of art know the why of it or the cause. [...] Thus, master-artists are considered wiser not in virtue of their ability to do something but in virtue of having the theory and knowing the causes. And in general, a sign of a man who understands is the ability to teach, and because of this we regard art more than experience to be science; for those who have the art can teach, but those who do not have it cannot teach.

I'm thinking of my encounter with the 8th grader and the passage above in terms of EnthyAlias's post this morning on education and my comments there. As a rhetorician, I should probably favor an education grounded in experience, and appreciate Aristotle's praise for individuals and action (though one can read A's preference for "art" here as echoing his preference for philosophy over rhetoric-- the appreciation for action becomes a necessity in a less-than-artsy world). But, I am concerned our educational institutions are overly concerned with quantifiable, accountable experience and less concerned with the why-ny art. To make a radical jump: NCLB focuses on the plot, not the moral. Discussion of morality is an interpretive endeavor. From a postmodern perspective, it is also a violent one. It presents us with more difference, and difference is difficult to negotiate. Against Aristotle, I would argue that "art" is rarely universal, and it is its particularity that sways contemporary education toward the simplicity of experience.

And yet, despite my suspicions of Aristotle, I still want to know the (universal) moral of the story. Another indication that we can never entirely escape our roots! But, perhaps, my desire isn't really to know the moral of the story as much as it is to invite another to share her experience in hopes that together, agonistically or perhaps even cooperatively, we can experience a glimpse of the why.