Exhibit 1.4.11

Today in Confusing Stock Photography

O, The Huffington Post. You’re the world’s number one purveyor of slideshows about bad stock photography and bad stock photography.

Also, not so good at the irony.

Comment / Posted in Money, Posts, Stock Photography

Exhibit 1.1.19

Why Not

So, yes, more book posts. I’m sorry. I’m reading a lot, what can I say. It’s either that or contemplate why the tornado siren is going off. My theories: either it’s a test or God intends to finish what he started in Arkansas.

If it helps, I thought this book was fantastic. It’s smart and original and funny and, basically, everything the last book wasn’t (well, fine, the last book was smart. Maybe I should have gone with clever). This is the first Mary Robison I’ve read which I find slightly strange as it’s a name that feels really familiar to me, just one of those names you hear a lot if you deal in literary fiction. I might have read a story or two some where but none are coming to mind and so I suppose she’s nothing but a name and the vague impression that she’s Amy Hempel-y which is a good thing to be.

Why Did I Ever is told in 536 chapters (Well, “sections” anyway. If I have a gripe with the book it’s that these mostly numbered but occasionally titled sections are further broken up into chapters, as if without this the reader might be fooled into thinking these were short stories, as if any book needs two levels of numbering). Anyway, some representative ones:


That fat man driving around with his little pooch? Now why don’t I know him or someone like him? That man, I bet, could make me very happy.


Hollis is perched on one of the seats in the breakfast nook as we come in. He’s eating a pecan roll and reading the Book of Revelation. “Whoomp!” he says. “Did you ever know about this? ‘There will be no more night.'”

There are longer chapters though none more than a page or so and some as short as a single word. Despite the fragmentation, the book does work around a cohesive plot and an established set of characters. The narrator is a middle-aged woman working as a screenwriter for a film studio with two children only slightly more troubled than she is herself. It’s never sentimental and, despite the darkness, shockingly funny in little, real ways that always seem impossible to me. These kind of life-on-the-brink stories are done to death but rarely do they feel this fraught which is a credit to the form. These short chapters aren’t a gimmick, they’re a telling representation of the scattered thoughts of a woman in just enough control to get them in the right order but to see her own narrative.

As a teacher–not a reader–it’s strange to read a book like this that seems so clearly suited to imparting one lesson. I mean, there’s great dialogue and description and characterization and whatever else we’re all supposed to be doing. And it’s formally interesting and well-written in its own stark way. Plenty to say about that. Really though, it’s a book about voice and though the narrator reaches no great conclusion, it’s terribly sad to leave her.

1 Comment / Posted in Books, Fiction, Money

Exhibit 25.18

Conference Realignment

If you’ll allow me to talk about college athletics for a moment…

…I’ve got mixed feelings about how Nebraska broke college football. Not that college football got broken, but that it had to be Nebraska doing it. It’s not exactly the situation, of course, and Colorado’s move into the Pac-10 takes some of the heat off the Big Red, but at least in Texas the sentiment seems to be that it’s Nebraska driving a stake into the heart of the Big XII (and not, you know, a flawed revenue sharing arrangement or conference championship game that’s not going to played north of Dallas anytime soon).

Nebraska is doing what’s right for Nebraska, but it’s unfortunate that there are likely going to be some pretty dire consequences for some surrounding schools. I’m mostly sad for Kansas in all of this which has to be looking around and panicking that their basketball team is going to end up playing Boise St. and Wyoming twice a year. The Texas schools will always be okay, and Oklahoma seems likely to land on its feet one way or the other, but the Plains schools are going to be in an awkward position if things continue on their current course. Its a course that means 16 team super conferences and–eventually–a host of lawsuits and possible congressional action.

It’s not going to be pretty, and, while I agree with the decision–am crazily excited about it actually–it’s Nebraska’s responsibility. Apparently, like Han Solo, Nebraska shoots first. It’s shocking such an old-guard administration was able to weigh the school’s future against tradition and determine the money was worth the criticism. And this is about money. Nebraska wanted more, and so they were bold instead of loyal. They were determined not to be left behind, and how it came to be Nebraska joining the Big 10 and not Missouri is a story that I hope comes out at some point. Somehow a university from one of the country’s smallest states came to be the key player in a national revolution driven by the acquisition of television ratings. Tom Osborne must have made one incredible PowerPoint presentation.

So now the university will position itself to build its academic reputation around its Big 10 membership. Good, they should be so ambitious. The state seems to think there are ways this could lead to jobs and population growth (we’ll see. Frankly, I’d be afraid if college football is actually that important). The athletic department is going to try to sell everyone on the idea that Iowa is rival, and soon it probably will be. And of course the only reason that matters: the financial windfall. The end.

It’s a win, but it’s a momentary one. By the time Nebraska joins in 2011, all of the other pieces will have fallen into place and it might not look like such a smart move to have cast off the past. If things go the way they seem to be going, this is going to be a reset button in college athletics (though, notably, not the one we’d all like to hit which would bring some much needed reforms to spread the wealth to student-athletes). Nebraska is hardly guaranteed their relevancy, and there are obvious pitfalls in moving north rather than south. O well. They broke it, they bought it. Thankfully, it shouldn’t be a problem paying for it.

2 Comments / Posted in Money, Nebraska, Sports