Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Breaking News: Sam Nunn Endorses Obama

Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn has endorsed Barack Obama, and will serve on his foreign policy advisory committee. Nunn is the exemplary "blue dog" Democrat and elder statesmen. The Georgia wing of the Gruntled family reports that Dems there want Nunn to be Vice-President.

The Gravitas Wagon is gathering steam ...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Counting Your Blessings Makes You Happier

Mrs. G. sent this one to me under the lovely heading, "Peer-reviewed gruntle!"

A study by R.A. Emmons and M.E. McCullough in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people are happier when they articulate each day what they are grateful for. In an experiment, both psychology students (reasonably healthy) and neuromuscular disease patients (with something serious to be unhappy about) were asked to write down each day a list of things they were grateful for. After two or three weeks, both groups were happier.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Breaking News: The Boss Endorses Obama

Bruce Springsteen, my musical lodestar since I was a teenager, has endorsed Barack Obama.

After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Divorce Costs Taxpayers $112 Billion Per Year

And that is just in this country. And this is just a minimum estimate of the direct costs.

This is the conclusion of a new report from the Institute for American Values, The Taxpayer Cost of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing. It was released today to coincide with the important civil religion holiday of Tax Day.

I will work through the details of this report in other posts this week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Great Teacher's Last Lecture

Randy Pausch is dying of cancer. He gave the best "last lecture" I have ever read. As a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, he has done some amazing things in the computer world. What gripped me the most, as a teacher, were the extraordinary things he did to push students to push themselves to learn, and to honor and appreciate them when they did. More, he has a noble vision of the university clearing the way for students and teachers to work together to push themselves to learn. The whole speech moved me to tears as it has others.

The teaching stories are the best. I will give you a couple of the other tales and wisdom, told with gratitude, that give a flavor of his tone.

When I was here studying to get my Ph.D. and I was taking something called the theory qualifier, which I can definitively say is the second worst thing in my life after chemotherapy. [laughter] And I was complaining to my mother about how hard this test was and how awful it was, and she just leaned over and she patted me on the arm and she said, we know how you feel honey, and remember when your father was your age he was fighting the Germans. [laugher] After I got my Ph.D., my mother took great relish in introducing me as, this is my son, he’s a doctor but not the kind that helps people.

Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me, wow, you got tenure early. What’s your secret? I said, it’s pretty simple. Call my any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you.

Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?

A book of the lecture has been made to benefit the pancreatic cancer research foundation. The full transcript of the lecture is here.