Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peter Markie's Purple Chalk

Opened the Fall edition of my Mizzou alumni magazine to the happy news that my old mentor and undergrad Philosophy Club sponsor Peter Markie has been honored with the coveted Purple Chalk Award. Congrats, Peter! (You guys still have a chalkboard? They carted our last one away this summer. But Purple Dry Erase Marker Award just doesn't have the same ring.) 

Wish we could meet up at Michael's Pub (the one we got booted from when one of us tried to prove himself "free" by doing something stupid with a beer mug) to celebrate. (Alas, it's long since gone to the dozer and reconstruction.)
As do all talented educators, Markie has a knack for reducing monumental concepts into digestible pieces. It’s one of the skills that earned him a Purple Chalk Award for outstanding teaching from the College of Arts and Science in March. In his 37th year at Mizzou, Markie has served as interim assistant provost, vice provost for undergraduate studies and philosophy department chair. But teaching students is what fuels his fire. "It’s not just grabbing their attention, but holding it and doing something with it,” Markie says. “There are days when you have people sucked into a philosophical problem, and their interest generates a back-and-forth discussion. That’s when I think I’ll do this forever. They’ll have to have six or eight guys come in with a coffin, say, ‘Markie, you’re done,’ drop me in it and carry me out.
I think Peter's probably had that experience a few times more than me, through the years (the back-and-forth experience, not the drop-and-carry), but I know just what he means. I feel the same way. Long may we rave.

Monday, August 26, 2013


A moment of respectful silence please, on Opening Day of Fall Semester 2013, for our old classroom. Requiescat in pace, James Union Building room #304. Here's how it looked from my office desk across the hall last Opening Day:

And here it is now, transformed from classroom to office space:
It's great having colleagues across the hall. But I miss the kids.
POSTSCRIPT. But this was reassuring: my colleague's perennial Opening Day board quote from Charles Sanders Peirce, the one I always found on arrival in 304 on the first day of every semester...

turned up again yesterday in Forrest Hall. I still disagree with it [What philosophy really is], but I'm comforted that some things never change.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Van Gokh?!

One of Woody Allen's most endearing qualities, on-screen at least, is his impatience with pseudo-intellectual, self-important, self-appointed custodians of culture, the kinds of people who "sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism," and think everything you like is "derivative bullshit."

Older Daughter says she's encountered some of those in college, already. Par for the course on Day #1, I told her. My Rule #1, which goes into effect on Day #2: No stuck-up sticky beaks here! 

And there's no... Rule #2.

Monday, August 12, 2013


This has been my favorite campus "icon" for a long time, at our school. Love to hold office hours here.

But until just now I did not know its proper name. WELCOME to the Uranidrome-

MTSU’s Naked-Eye Observatory...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Walking to work

I've been laboring all summer, really all my adult life, to find words adequate to express the serious playfulness of walking. It's a rewarding but elusive search, and I'm more grateful than not that it will continue for me indefinitely.

Meanwhile, D.B. Johnson's Henry the Bear has said it best so far. "I'm walking to work." A children's book, so simple on the surface, but so eloquent and profound if you read it right. Accelerating Intelligence News