University Mechanations

With all the hoo-hah about rigged admissions to prestige colleges, I thought I would add a very long-term reflection on the process.

My Father was Amherst Class of 1912 (yes, he was born in 1890). His whole interpretation of what a college education meant was just, duh, accepted by me as a little kid, though resisted when it came time for me to do the thing myself.

For Dan Miles, the product of a relatively old-elite family in MA, a college degree certified your presence in the higher WASP orders. Very few were intended to get them.

For Milo Miles, the product of a relatively farmland-elite family in MT, a college degree was what the majority of high-school graduates who had their shit together needed for at least a middle-class future.

I’ve mentioned on Twitter how the news of a gay-rights demonstration at Amherst kept my dad from insisting I go there (that wasn’t all — he sensed that there was more freedom of choice for young-uns at the end of the ’60s). I decided that “going away” to college would shred my worthwhile MT roots (there’s more to it, but Nunya), so went to both MSU Bozeman and U of M Missoula.

I got the degree, with a couple buffs added. Dad died the next year (at 85). I’ve always thought that part of it was that he was determined to hang on until I got that college certificate, which meant that my work life would be taken care of from then on. At once a nice and nasty dream.

You Are What You Bot, Not What Bots You

I got a malware pitch this week that tried to ask me “If I had any advice to blog writers.”

Sorry, evil machine, no direct response to you. But not the worst question. Because a quite simple answer came to me, which was of course an intention of the twisted bot pitch.

For me, blogs are:

Not Confessional

Not Confrontational

Are Conversational

Basically, the oldest message I’ve sent out on the Interwebs — don’t write/post/whatever you would not say on the open street where anyone could hear you. But try to hold an active, varied, funny conversation that entertains and provokes ideas and new interests.

I can do quick, informal reviews of whatever I want here, old or new. And I’m very gratified that these are now considered real journalism of very informal sort. That’s fun, and the fun is what I want to preserve.

The Chaotic Creation of the Digital Newsroom

I’ll probably need a second life to read this book, but I wish that were more possible. This is a crucial tale and the selected examples are perfect. Abramson was of course correct about how to keep the professional ethics intact, but in retrospect that was not gonna happen under any circumstances. Must note that the one myth believed by too many otherwise smart people was that “local news” was going to be the fiscal salvation of modern journalism: that readers would pay more for hacked-out stories set in their neighborhoods than the most brilliant presentation and explanation of world-sized stories. I thought it mostly reflected contempt for the audience.

Mary You Wanna Down the Block

There’s going to be a public meeting (on my birthday, no less) about turning a defunct bar in Coolidge Corner (about a 10-minute walk from our house) into a marijuanna dispensary. That’s progress, I guess. Doesn’t make up for all the years the stuff loomed over my life like a cop with radiant eyes. But, hey, there’s no question it’s an improvement over a hooch hole that was notorious for selling booze to college kids even if they were shitfaced.

Here’s the scoop.

{EDIT}

PS: I must note that the Globe added an excellent tidbit — because of its riotous, drunken atmosphere, the place was nicknamed “Scary Mary’s.”

 

R.I.P.: Penny Marshall

“Laverne & Shirley” took place well after I had stopped watching regular TV series. And A League of Their Own is in my rankings, her second-best movie.

But her perfect work, and a landmark I think, is Big. It’s also my favorite Tom Hanks performance — he is in touch with how to feel and think like a child as, well, nobody his age could be and does an incredible job of portraying how a child in an adult body would pretend to be a grownup. The horrible gnarly matter of children and adult love and even (gulp) sex could have been screwed up so totally and seems to unfold the only way it could have worked. Josh’s interactions with best-buddy Billy are a marvel of tonal control as well as hoot after hoot jokes.

And, the first time we saw it, the ending made me cry and sense more vividly than I had in years how much I loved my Mother. No matter how warm and harmonious your childhood life is, every one of us wanted to ditch it with all our heart at some time. The final point of Big is: no, you don’t really want to throw it away, even if you could.