Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is there any actual substance to Ken Howell's claims?

This week's local kerfuffle is about an adjunct professor who's contract was not renewed by the University. He's now claiming anti-Catholic bias because a student complained about his anti-gay bias. The N-G articles are here and here. I'm getting in on this late, so there's not really much point, but what the hell.

Something about this whole thing smells funny. I just don't buy it. Both articles say that his contract was not renewed (he was not fired) "after" the anonymous student lodged his complaint. One thing that's conspicuously missing from the articles is that he was let go as a result of this complaint. His contract wasn't renewed after the Hundred Years War, either, but that doesn't mean one led to the other. The only suggestion that Howell's contract wasn't terminated because of anti-Catholic bias is coming from Howell himself.

My skepticism is driven largely by one point: undergraduates just don't have this kind of influence. It's not like university administrators sit around thinking "Oh woe is me, I must now lay of a highly skilled teacher because we have had a single anonymous complaint." It's not like they sit around rubbing their hands together, cackling evilly, and plotting a new Protestant schism, either.

Can I point out that the University is undergoing a major financial crisis at the moment? The entire freakin' staff had to take a 3% pay cut and now they're going to have to find a way to pay the new CEO's university president's 40% raise over his predecessor's salary. It really wouldn't surprise me if departments were looking for any way at all to save a few bucks. Cutting non-tenure track teaching staff might be a good way to reduce labor costs. I've asked a few people and they didn't know if other adjuncts are being let go or not.

I suspect there's more going on here than we know about. At most, I'd bet that this was just an excuse to get rid of someone that has been a nuisance or a problem in other ways. That a teacher is being gotten rid of because of one anonymous complaint just doesn't wash.

I'm also amused of the irony in the fact Howell claims "[Natural Moral Law] says that Morality must be a response to REALITY" while simultaneously claiming he was discriminated against because of his membership in a Church that also teaches that demonic possession is real.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A tale of two weddings

In a weird synchronicity, last month I was invited to two weddings in as many weeks. Weddings are not exactly something I think about much. I guess I've just assumed all my life I'd never have one of my own and also I'm a guy, so I haven't been inundated with the bride-as-princess thing from shortly after birth. I've only been to two weddings other than these so I wasn't sure really what to expect. I just thought it was interesting to compare. 

At L and T's wedding, there were save the date cards, formal invitations, RSVP cards, and possibly formal announcements for after the wedding (TBD). There were emergency store runs for ribbon, where I discovered more shades of teal than I had ever though possible, all of which were wrong. There were discussion about party favors and bands and locations. There was a groom that nearly lost it during the ceremony. The place cards arrived less than 24 hours before they were needed and it's good that they did arrive, so the 150ish guests knew which table to sit at.

At D and T's wedding (fortunately a different T, since it was the following week), there was torrential rain, a baseball game, baseball sushi, the judge that ruled gay marriage was legal in Iowa, a lot of beer, and a visit by Cubby Bear (who probably didn't realize how appropriate that was). There was another groom that nearly lost it during the ceremony. There was a woman in the hotel lobby in some sort of poofy white dress and a dragonfly tattoo that covered her entire back. There was even a trip to the largest truck stop in the world on the way back.

I wish I had some deep thought to make here, or some pithy comment to end with. But I don't, so I'll just leave you with a blurry picture that just sums up both events: