Waldtaube (wood dove) is a character in a wonderful piece of music entitled “Gurrelieder” (Songs of Gurre) by Arnold Schoenberg. Waldtaube’s function in “Gurrelieder” is to comment on the goings-on within the drama. In this blog I hope to comment carefully and clearly on topics that seem of interest to me and hopefully to you, but which are not chosen around any particular theme. Hence the slogan for my blog site: “Careful thoughts on semi-random topics.” The Wood Dove image that graces this page is courtesy of my granddaughter Madeline.
Last year I wrote a post about the need for buying out Tom Allen’s contract and finding a new football coach. That note from last December is still relevant, partly because it identifies some of the challenges as well as the opportunities. At $20M buying Coach Tom Allen out this very day would seem a decent option. There are plenty of challenges, including the chronic difficult of attracting good coaches. In the opportunity category is speed with which a team can be refurbished in the course of a single offseason, as a result of the new transfer rules. The University of Colorado Buffaloes are a good example. Ready to compete with Ohio State? Probably not. Interesting? Without question.
Never have I seen a more down-in-the mouth homecoming football game at IU than yesterday. The only team that I can remember that was as consistently unable to execute as this year’s team was the one season of Sam Wyche’s tenure as head coach. Other teams may have been worse overall, but this team is distinctive in its lack of exciting high points in any aspect of the game. Whether it’s the coaches, the players, or both I do not have the expertise to judge. IU Football is not interesting to watch, unless you are a fan of the other team or you attend games to watch the Marching Hundred. Or you know someone with a killer tailgating party. A post I wrote last December seems if anything more on target than it was at the end of 2022. http://www.waldtaube.org/iu-and-its-football-coaching-woes/
Posted 18 October 2023: A tale of two Phalli.
October 12, 2023
Hi everyone! I have been largely inactive of late. In general it just hasn’t been clear to me that adding more to the din would do any good. Now, however, I feel the tug to post something now and again – hopefully without doing to much screaming into the void (since the void won’t scream back). Some of what I post will be in German, most in English.
I have put together an index to my old posts and commentaries on Waldtaube.org from the start a bit more than three years ago to October 1 of 2023. The categories are: Fun, Cancer, Religion and spirituality, and Social issues and politics. Posts within each category are listed by category and in reverse chronological order. That makes sense in most cases although my posts on cancer are likely best read bottom up (oldest first).
Read the full post at http://www.waldtaube.org/my-first-fathers-day-as-a-father-was-40-years-ago-today/
One of the best lines in all of country music goes, “Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.” Today’s Sunday morning was for me much simpler. I woke up this morning. To read why this is of note, check out my latest blog post at http://www.waldtaube.org/i-woke-up-this-morning/
I once wrote a blog post entitled “The whitest university ever… .” It was about Indiana University.
I’ve been a member of the IU community for more than four decades. During that time I have known thousands of faculty members, thousands of staff members, thousands of students, and hundreds of administrators. Among IU faculty and leaders I have known many, many Caucasians. Plenty of Asians. Just a handful of Hispanics. And few enough Black faculty that I can count them on one hand (Charles Neal, Jim Holland, David Baker, Adam Herbert, Gladys DeVane). Of course, that’s just my experience of who I got to know and work with, but it represents a reality of Indiana University: awfully terribly damn white. And the University community has long suffered as a result – suffered because it has lacked the full and deserved voice of people other than Caucasians, Hispanics, Blacks, and Indigenous peoples most notably.
When Michael A. McRobbie became the 18th President of Indiana University in 2007 he took on leadership of an institution mired in mediocrity. So deeply mired, in fact, that many members of the IU community could not even distinguish between mediocrity and excellence. It is unquestionable that former President McRobbie delivered on his promise to make Indiana University once again an excellent university. During his tenure as President there were notable advances in the diversity of the IU community. Still, President McRobbie had been at IU for a decade+ before becoming President and as he rose to the presidency he put into positions of leadership primarily people already at IU, which meant in practice that many of the people who rose to positions of responsibility at IU were largely white (yours truly included to the extent that I count at all as a former member of IU leadership).
Now IU has a new President – Pamela Whitten – and she seems to be making a richly diverse university community one of her priorities. Since she became President:
- Juneteenth is a University holiday
- $30M in funding to increase the diversity of the IU faculty
- Two of two Executive Vice President hires are people of color – the new Provost (who is an IU alum and an Asian Indian) and the first ever Black Executive VP – IU’s new Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration.
- IU Northwest is now designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, which means that it is also a Minority Serving Institution.
Put together, an interesting set of accomplishments related to diversity of the IU community within the first six months of President Whitten’s tenure. Of the above, the first, and I think not nearly well noticed enough, was the classification of IU Northwest as an HSI. First this classification says to Hispanic Hoosiers that IU Northwest that they are welcome there. It also means that IU Northwest gets special consideration for grant funding. AND the faculty there now become prime targets for being partners on grant proposals led by faculty of IUPUI and IU Bloomington.
It’s far too early to judge the presidency of Pamela Whitten. But today there are more people of color in top leadership positions than ever before and there are now two IU holidays that honor the legacy of Blacks in the USA. That’s two more of each than there were when I first became a member of the IU community more than 40 years ago. So while it’s too early to judge, one can look at IU on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and think that something interesting might be going on.
This Thanksgiving there is much to be thankful for locally and globally.
Things to be thankful for locally for me: Two grandchildren who have turned 16, one who turned 21, one who is engaged to be married. A great relationship with my wife and family in general. Trips that were once impossible became possible – trips to Paris and Germany with dear friends, trip to Boston for history and sightseeing with younger granddaughter Madeline, trips to South Haven, Michigan and Salt Lake City, Utah with my sweetie Marion. Trips to visit my Mom for this Thanksgiving, trips to Germany to visit our family there. And a new baby in the family for the first time in 16 years: Emma Lotta, daughter of our godson and nephew Nils and his partner Anneke. My sweetie Marion still loves me. 2021 is my fifth Thanksgiving since being diagnosed with cancer, so I am particularly thankful to be alive.
Things to be thankful for globally: Vaccines for COVID-19 have proved effective in the fight against this disease. There are some signs that the fever that has gripped public discourse in the USA may be near a breaking point. And some signs that the USA economy, after decades of being tipped in the favor of the very rich, may be tipping a bit back in favor of the workers. That’s a lot.
But it’s been a hard year as well.
My father passed away last spring after many years of decline due to Alzheimer’s. I am sad that he is gone, but relieved in a way that he is released from what Alzheimer’s did to him. Somewhere in the universe there is still present the energy of my father as the person who inspired me as a child. This past year one of the other people I most admire among all of the people I have known well during my lifetime passed away, as a result of his cancer. He did so at peace with himself and the universe. I am a much better person for having known him. While cancer cost him his mortal life, and me sadness, it is also true that our friendship was born out of our shared experience of cancer. Without cancer, we would never have become good friends.
Hundreds of thousands of USA citizens and millions of people worldwide have died as a result of COVID-19. Some of the blame for the latter in the US goes to some of our political and media leaders. I mean of course leaders who claim to be Christian and yet have claimed that it is better to endanger your neighbors by not being vaccinated and not wearing masks than to inconvenience yourself somewhat so that others might live. The golden rule seems like such a simple thing in theory. Liberty means choice, but liberty does not come without responsibility. Sometimes liberty needs to mean the liberty to do the right thing as a citizen within a society. In the case of COVID-19 this comes down to the golden rule or Kant’s categorical imperative (take your pick) and being vaccinated. Nowhere in the Gospels is it recorded that Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, said “My body, my choice”.
This year while we have seen some justice delivered in the justice system, in many cases that grab national headlines there are significant questions as to whether or not justice has been served. In some prominent cases the answer “justice was not served” comes with easier and seemingly better explanations than the answer “justice was served.”
Still, I’m alive, and if you are reading this you are alive. Being alive means hope for the next year. I remain thankful and hopeful for a better year next year for all of us – with as much or more to be thankful for.