Factory Work is Honest and Good Work!
The picture above is of my father and three relatives at an Xmas party, probably in the 1960’s. He worked for Bower Roller Bearings as an inspector. Every morning he dressed for work and he looked like he was going to an office job, not a factory job. He was very proud of the work he did. Notice in the photo that my dad is playing cards. He is wearing a tie, white long-sleeved shirt, and a suit. The rest of my relatives are wearing casual clothing.
(The following is taken from my book, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.)
“Daddy was single, although he didn’t like the idea. Marriage suited him, but he hadn’t much luck with the other women he had married. One died in childbirth (my half-sister), and the other he caught making love with another man in his own bed. And we don’t know what happened to the others. When Daddy loved, it was complete. And so when he gave all of his money to a wife, including a mink coat, he thought love would last forever. He was willing to wear sole-less-newspaper-lined shoes just to make her happy. Yet nothing he could give or do could make her love him as much as he loved her.
Daddy was of medium height, slightly on the thin side, with glossy black hair that shined until his death. Dark skin hinted at his Cherokee ancestry. Always impeccably dressed, even on the floors of Bower Roller Bearings, he used to boast about his weight that always stayed between 155-160. As a child, my father loved learning, thinking about the world, and reading, but was forced to quit elementary school in the sixth grade and work on the farm.
One day when he was plowing a field, the mules jerked his arm and broke it. His family wrapped it up without taking him to a physician to get the bones set. That disfigured and scarred arm was frozen at a right angle for the rest of his life. When World War II was raging, he could not enlist because of his arm. He felt humiliated by this childhood defect all of his life, and almost always wore long-sleeved shirts. He smoked and always held the cigarette or cigar in his left hand so that no one would notice.”
My father died when I was only 22 but I will always be thankful for the hammer and paint brush he put in my hands. He taught me how to mow the grass and hoe a row of anything.
On hot days we would sit on the picnic table in the back yard. Most of the time we argued about politics and world events. He smoked and drank Carling’s Black Label or Pabst Blue Ribbon. One day I said I wanted to smoke. He said, “Here, I will give you a cigarette and you can smoke it.” So he stuck a Camel cig in my mouth and lit it. I choked. The paper and leaves stuck to my mouth and lips, and then I threw up. I never ever thought of smoking again. It was the same thing with alcohol. I could have had as much as I wanted, but I never wanted. It was always available.
One more story is interesting and frightening at the same time. My dad was also a detective for Selvidge Secret Service in Detroit. (His cousin owned it.) I searched for the name on Google but it must be gone now. During vacations we would visit relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee. One day a car followed us and kept shooting at us. I guess my father had discovered something they did not like. It was not long after that he quit his moonlighting job as a detective.
I am so thankful for the open, progressive, and critical side of my dad. While we did not agree on much of anything, he opened my mind and trained it so well that I was able to win a Ph.D. from the Jesuits. I think the Ph.D. belongs to him. He would have certainly gone on to college if he had had the opportunity or the cash. Just before he died, he said,
“Go on with your education, no one can take that away from you.”
Here is one more pic of him!
Angels of Music Descend Upon Kansas City
We are adults. Who da’ thought that we would love Music Camp. Isn’t that for kids? Tom and I had never been to a music festival. Someone said that there were 1600 musicians at the event. They were playing their instruments in the hallways, restrooms, next to the waste baskets, and in their rooms. Everyone was carrying at least one instrument.
Probably the highlight for both of us was the Gospel Session with Ken Whitely and Friends. Our own Millie Edwards (one of the Wild Women) was up on stage with The Sojourners and Linda McRae from Canada, The Birds of Chicago, and more.
Millie gripped the audience with her solos. The singing was heart challenging and left you in tears. Grammy Winners eat your heart out! These singers and their backup were the best that we have ever heard. How lucky we are that they came to town!
On Music Camp day, Tom went to guitar workshops, and I chose to attend Blind Boy Paxton’s “Blues and Ragtime Piano Styles.”
He challenged me to play twelfths and led us back 100 years, it seemed, to people like Willie the Lyon Smith, Luckey Roberts, Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. He was much older than his 26 years. “Practice what you love.” “Get the harmony before you get the melody.” “Play the piece very, very slowly. Fast will come soon.” He was a gentle and engaging person and hugged me before he left.
Later we listened to his concert broadcasted live on KKFI, the sort of radio free USA of Kansas City. It was stunning!
“Composition through Improvisation” sounded daunting to me, but I enrolled anyway. Radoslav Lorkovic, a Croation born classical pianist, asked me to sit at the piano with him. He helped me play a Jazz scale and with my left hand, a bass beat. He demonstrated many different ways to improvise on the piano. “Knowing the chords helps, but you can get by with a lot of strategies.” One of the most interesting things he said was, “When classical pianists are hired, I have to deconstruct their education so that they can play for American audiences.” It was a stellar experience.
Tom and I both attended a session by the Sojourners, “The Roots of Freedom Songs.” They explained that slaves who escaped before the Civil War traveled all the way to Canada, where they were welcomed. Most of the time was spent teaching us how to sing Freedom songs, “I shall not be moved.”
At the Artisan market, filled with friendly and knowledgeable people, Tom tried playing a guitar made from a cigar box. Please note here that everyone was so helpful and encouraging when it came to playing an instrument. It did not matter if you were a beginner of professional.
The mission of the Folk Alliance International is “to nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community-traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional-through education, advocacy and performance.”
I would say that “hit the nail on the head,” for us!
Titan II Missile is a Wonder to Behold!
I will never forget the last scene of Dr. Strangelove (nor Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev’s declaration, “We will bury you.”) We were watching the movie at a drive-in theatre in 1964. The last scene shows a detonation of a nuclear bomb that destroys the world. That plume is still in my mind.
I never understood, and still do not understood, the propensity that men have toward violence and the power it brings to them. I remember arguing with an Economics professor on a cruise ship once who said, “Ultimately it has to do with money, economics.” I have other theories.
Tom and I have attempted to visit missile sites in other states but were only allowed to look into a silo, for instance, in South Dakota. In Sahuarita, Arizona near Tucson, we visited the last surviving Titan II missile housed in a museum. Cost was about $10 per person and worth every penny.
Our guide was a 73-year-old Civil Engineer, Bob, who worked on the site for most of his career. There were only four military people who could launch the missile, but over 400 maintenance people kept it running from 1963-1987.
“Can you walk down 50 something steps,” asked the volunteer, after we viewed a film about he missile. About ten of us walked down what seemed like 10 flights of stairs to the central command station. We learned about the guidance system, the key, the security, the advanced communication system they used long before cell phones. It was a marvel.
There were long hallways with tubes everywhere. I kept thinking of some of the science fiction movies I have watched, including episodes dealing with the “Borg” in Star Trek. Next Generation. Steel walls were a foot thick and doors were tested in case there was a nuclear attack from another country or a mishap on site.
The Titan II is about 103 feet long and could deliver a nuclear bomb to a target approximately 6300 miles away in about 30 minutes. The devastation was complete. It was retired because the military had developed better and more lethal missiles, The Minute Men. Our guide said that one of these missiles could destroy everything in Los Angeles, nine times over, in a matter of seconds.
The overall theme of this museum, lead by volunteers, is “Peace through Deterrence.” None of the missiles were ever launched but they kept our enemies on their toes because they knew that within minutes of an attack that our missiles would be launched.
Unfortunately some people died during the building and maintenance of the Titan II missiles. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that chronicles some of those accidents.
In August 1965, a fire and resultant loss of oxygen when a high-pressure hydraulic line was cut with an oxyacetylene torch in a missile silo (373-4) near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 people, mostly civilian repairmen doing maintenance.
On August 24, 1978, one airman, SSgt Robert Thomas, was killed at a site outside Rock, Kansas when a missile in its silo leaked propellant. Another airman, A1C Erby Hepstall, later died from lung injuries sustained in the spill.
On September 19, 1980, a major mishap occurred after a socket from a socket wrench rolled off a platform and punctured the missile’s Stage I fuel tank, subsequently causing the missile to collapse. Due to the hypergolic propellants involved, the entire missile exploded a few hours later, killing an Air Force airman, SrA David Livingston, and destroying the silo (374-7, near Damascus, Arkansas). Thanks to the warhead’s built-in safety features, it did not detonate.
I understand the military philosophy of peace through deterrence but I kept thinking of all those millions and billions of dollars that could have been spent on education and our infrastructure. So far, the military’s approach is working. “We never intended to launch a single missile,” said our host.
If you ever visit Arizona, spend time at the museum and learn about the dedication of both civilians and the military hoping to protect us from harm. Thank you to all of them.
My absence from writing has been due to five surgeries that I had during the last three months of the year. I am on the mend so my mind (free from those awful drugs) is flying again.
For over a year I have ranted about the abysmal state of higher education, its abuse of faculty and students, and misuse of funds. After leaving UCM I have discovered that there are many, many other faculty who work in even worse conditions than I did. (How can this happen?) I want to shout rants for them too.
Those rants will soon be captured in a novel about higher education. “Jihad” will be one of the important words in the title. This blog will change its direction to a variety of other subjects.
Shortly, I will be developing “Motoring with Marla” a new website that will chronicle our travels in our motorhome. One of the sections of this website will be “Candid Camper” where I upload photos of unusual ways people camp. You would never believe how people camp. Recently we saw a camper that had been created out of a one-horse carrier. There were no windows in it, only a small door. (Wonder how the horse survived?)
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge
Cartoon Captures a Snapshot about the Failings of Higher Education
Chan Lowe created a portrait of Higher Education in the United States “The American Undergrad’s Prayer.” (I am repeating the prayer here, just in case they pull the cartoon from this blog)
“O, Lord! Please protect me from campus killing rampages so that I amy earn my worthless degree and drown in student debt forever and ever, AMEN.”
This creative soul has captured the tragic feelings of many lost undergraduates in our country.
Lowe Has a Narrow View of Higher Education
As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I grew up just outside of the now war-torn Detroit, Michigan when the “Big Three” automakers were responsible for the economic growth and well-being of millions of people. Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Three or a factory that supplied parts and more to the Three. One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an uncle-friend built plants for GM.
I knew that General Motors had an institute where I could learn to be an engineer. But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles. I had been around the making of cars my whole life, but I wanted to see life outside of an engine magazine and a transmission on the floor of a garage.
I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little. I did not go to college to study something that would guarantee a job. I knew I could find a job to support myself at any plant around the corner.
And here is where I think Lowe makes a huge mistake. Money is not everything in life. There are a lot of other values that propel people to attend college.
I wanted a challenge and began studying languages with different scripts. I wanted to travel. I wanted to write. I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet. I wanted to be involved in life in a different way. And, even after retiring, I am studying music. It is adding a wonderful dimension to my life.
Worthless Degree. Life is more than a Job
No degree is worthless. If you have studied well, you have learned how to read and write and communicate with the rest of the world. These are basic skills that undergrads lack. Many of my students could not spell, write a good sentence, reason critically, and were extremely lazy and undisciplined. They could not understand what was being offered to them, so they threw the time in college away.
I often worked three jobs in order to pay for my college. Rarely could anyone borrow money to go to college back in the 1960’s. So you either had to get a grand scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school. College students should be required to work when they attend college. It would help them with time-management and, perhaps, with their negative view of the future.
Most everyone I knew thought that my degree was worthless. I have a PhD in Hebrew and Greek. But, I had a tremendous career with many different job opportunities, traveled the world, and created many, many books, lectured on cruise ships, gave academic papers at national conferences, and more. You learn to turn your degree into many interesting pursuits. How do you know that the skill you are learning is going to be relevant when you graduate. Liberal Arts skills are always relevant and will help you to re-create your future.
If you want to go to college just to get a “job” then don’t go to college. Find a nice program somewhere that gives you the skills you need to get into the job market.
I finished a Certificate in Web Design and learned how to create Websites recently. It only took a couple of semesters, not four years, and I could be hired as a designer today at a good salary. Study one programming language that is in vogue, and you will be given offers by several companies. But you will have missed what I think is the the heart of education, which is the Liberal Arts that connects with history, people, poetry, great literature, art, music, theatre, religious studies, and more.
Violence on Campus
At my previous university only one student and one professor were murdered during my tenure. This does not compare with what has happened on other campuses, but both of those killings should have never happened.
I stopped teaching in the classroom about 8-10 years before I retired and developed classes online. They protected me from abusive, manipulative, and violent students. It did not stop them from emailing and calling me a “motherfu…”
I had one student place a gun on my desk demanding a better grade. I had five Middle Eastern students attempt to bribe me for a better grade. Several offered me free sex. One student stood outside my office swearing and walking back and forth threatening me. Another female clenched her fist in my face after she received a grade she did not like. There is so much more that I could list here.
And students are allowed to act out such behavior because university bureaucrats don’t want to lose one student. That would hurt their student-credit-hours and cash that they would lose to fund their own private parties and trips. Students know they are “used” and they resent every minute of it.
Students are Lost
Students don’t know what they want today. They can’t see their own future and this is the despair that is reflected in the cartoon. They are so wrapped up in their phones, their games, their sport’s teams and parties, that they don’t have time to think about the importance of those wonderful classes in which they are enrolled.
And the top officials of universities are in the same bucket. They are wrapped up in their own careers, and salaries, and influence, to the detriment of our students.
They are also lost, and so they lead the students into a bitter darkness reflected in this cartoon.
I may write another blog on this cartoon that addresses even more of the cancer that I have experienced on campuses.
My apologies for being away from the desk since August. I have had five surgeries and been floating around Colorado for three weeks. Several people have asked me to begin writing again. This was a good day, because it is my last surgery, and there was time.
Talk to you soon. As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.
Is There More than ONE Feminism?
I am happy to share the good news with you that I have published a new book, Politics of Feminisms. For most of my career I published in many fields of feminist interpretation. Some of those articles were lingering on my desk for years. Time slips away. This book represents two years of research on feminist biblical interpretation, misogyny in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Secrets of Women, and feminist politics in a modern classroom.
Below are a couple of excerpts. I wanted to entitle this book, “Misogyny for a Hundred Thousand Years,” but I thought that would be stretching it a bit.
Long ago, in the mid-twentieth century, when I was only seventeen, I began to study the Hebrew/Old Testament and New Testament while in college. I had this unshakeable faith that a Divine Being would never create inequality among human beings. There were passages in the Bible that confirmed my belief. People were created equal in Genesis one, and stood side by side in the formative years of the early church. Surely, after reading the Genesis passage and many stories in the New Testament, people would agree that females and males should be treated equally in society.
I was naive. Having been raised in a family with a strong mother who stood beside her husband as an equal, I could not even fathom that females should be treated differently just because their biology differed with males. I soon learned that females and males were treated differently in society.
A second excerpt:
The Bible is a historic collection of thoughts that has shaped countries and peoples for millennia. Communities have centered their faith activities in the Bible, brought unlikely people together, and serviced many needy people in spite of its misogyny, advocacy of male supremacy, and war-like tendencies. Communities like this provide havens and extended families for people. For some, to give up the study and research of the Bible may result in losing those friends or a haven. The flight of some Protestants away from feminist biblical traditions is understandable because they believe it essentially erodes their belief-system about order in society and community life. They cannot risk the loss even if it means redeeming oppressed females and others who constitute more than half of their congregations.
Feminists also desire control of the interpretation of the text to disseminate their truth, because it often legitimates an alternate power structure and serves to control myth. And, yes, they want more power in their lives and more control over the people who oppress, marginalize, and exploit them. But perhaps they could also open their research and hearts to others who also suffer in much the same way.
A third excerpt:
While we may be publishing new ideas about how we should interpret the Bible differently, or discovering people in the past who have shared the same dream, or how culture should change, or how political power should be shared, on a very basic level the average person does not understand shared power, and many have an unimpeachable belief in male supremacy that systematically excludes those who would challenge it.
Significant positive change may have come to some religious communities for women, but not to society as a whole in my view. Naomi Goldenberg threatened that feminism would be the end of traditional religions when the male God would be eliminated in her book The Changing of the Gods in 1979. “God is going to change…. We women are going to bring and end to God…. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore.”x[i]x Naomi Goldenberg’s prophecies failed to materialize. Little has changed. Perhaps her prophecies will come true … someday.
Apple is in the Tank!
I have been an avid user and fan of Macs since around 1983. Even when my university attempted to bribe me with a new PC, I did not falter, I kept my MAC. And I have always appreciated the support and quality of machines that I have purchased.
Recently Apple emailed with a recall of a Western Digital hard drive. Dutifully and trustingly, I brought my iMAC to the Apple Store in Leawood, Missouri. The hard drive was replaced in about two days. I was happy with the time frame. But I was not happy with the result. The iMAC would not start. I tried everything I knew to get the thing going. Called an Apple Genius? and he could not get it up and running.
When I returned to the store, the Apple Geniuses were flabbergasted. This does not happen. They did not believe me. They did not apologize. But after several attempts at jump-starting the machine. They decided that it needed to be fixed. My patience was gone!
I asked for a new iMAC since they trashed my old one. In unison they sang. “That could be considered.” But no one would make the decision. I think they were reading the lines from their iPads. A few days later, I brought the machine home. Oral tradition has it that a cable and the screen were broken. Huh? Did someone drop it? I asked for a new machine again and no one would respond. Applecare should have covered it, I think they wanted me to suffer a bit more before they gave me a new machine. When I arrived home my Magic Mouse would not work with the machine. What next?
I told them that crashing my computer was like someone taking your car and crashing it. You wouldn’t want the old car back, you would want a replacement. The Apple ears did not hear me.
Have you been to an Apple Store lately. There are hoards of worker drones in jeans and dark blue t-shirts that look like they need some advice on grooming. Most of them kept their heads buried in their iPads and never looked at you. I think they take a pic of you when you enter the store, and your pic shows up next to your appointment time? Huh? All I got from these drones was, “Sit here?” or “Wait here!” I said that I was perfectly happy where I was but I was told that I was in the way.
(On the plus side, as soon as I entered the store someone talked to me, even though the place looked like it was in total chaos.) It is difficult to hear above the roar of the people clicking, swiping, and complaining. My iMAC is pretty big and they told me to look around the store, but then said that I should keep my hands on the computer because I could lose it.
There were as many as fifteen people in a line at once asking for help. Some problems were handled immediately, like a phone that was in pieces, and other people, like me were sidelined for more than a half hour. I saw a two year old playing and talking on an iPhone. A six year old had dropped his iPhone and it was no longer linked to his new Apple watch. How much did that watch cost? People lost their passwords or locked up their machines or could not use the software. I was watching someone trying to teach a class on how to create a video. He was shouting and no one could hear him.
What a lunatic experience!
Apple is no longer on my “A” List
I wish there was a better machine (I have four of them) for me, I would buy it and leave Apple in the dust. But the truth is that I have thirty years of data on disks and drives that are only formatted for the MAC. To change all of this to a new format would be an impossible task.
So I am stuck with the drones.
Wouldn’t it be great if the drones wore ironed polo shirts, and they actually looked at you. Buy better shirts for your employees, will ya? They look like they found those shirts in a second-hand shop! Burn them!
And maybe, if they didn’t pay some of their executives $89 million a year, they could do more for their customers.
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge
General Education Classes are at the Heart of Higher Education
“The first act of the Islamic State was to kill the people with knowledge of Religion.” Zaid AlFares
For more than two decades at my last job at a state university, I had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the Religious Studies programs. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, politics on campus can be quite complicated and visceral. Our greatest opponents were professors and administrators in fields other than normally found in General Studies programs. They argued that our university did not need General Education. Other universities have walked down this path, where they have attempted to become majors only institutions. From my point of view, destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric.
I met a student who lives in Columbia the other night. He argued that General Education classes were a waste of time. Students should not be required to take classes they don’t like or don’t want to study. Universities should eliminate those worthless classes. This point of view is both reductionistic and destructive. The consequences of eliminating General Education classes would undermine our colleges and our country as a whole. And my reply to this student is that he should seek out a technical or for-profit school that does not include the classes he does not like in his program.
If you are a privileged human being who has grown up with lots of cash, traveled the world, and been tutored all of your life by high-end educators, then perhaps some of the General Education classes would seem to be a bit stifling. But many students in the state of Missouri, and especially at the institution where I taught, were first generation college students.
All students need to survey topics that they have never even considered studying in their lives. Those classes can open doors to possible careers and avocations. They lay a foundation that helps link students to all sorts of other people and careers. They can give “meaning” to a person’s life. You begin to understand the world around you, and interact with it in a more intelligent way after studying in a General Studies class. What would life be like if we did not study history, art, theatre, literature, creative writing, sociology, psychology, communication, women’s studies, languages, music, and even religious studies? We would all become automatons or mechanical people without hearts or brains. And isn’t that the point, and the goal, of those who would eliminate General Studies?
At the moment I am enrolled in a Music Appreciation class. (Yes, I am retired.) It is true that I do not like all of the music we have studied, but on the other hand, I have discovered other music I love. In Zumba classes I now can hear melodies in the Zumba tunes that were written hundreds of years ago. The class has made me very aware of all of the music around me, and I can read and understand the newspapers and advertisements about music about which I knew nothing. This is all thanks to a General Education class.
Most humanities courses help students to learn how to be critical thinkers. They help students to learn how to express themselves clearly and to speak with passion and care. Many of the professors who did not teach General Education courses at my university, complained that they should not be held accountable for their student’s lack of good writing or critical-thinking skills. As long as they knew content in the discipline of a class, the other skills were not needed. This argument harms students. They are not teaching in the best interests of students. Their point of view is skewed and narrow.
Students may even need General Studies classes to determine what types of professors they want in their major area. I remember one of my students who had taken Greek from me, asking a question in one of her major classes, where the professor was misusing, misunderstanding, and mispronouncing Greek words. She questioned him and he did not like it. And there were many other religious studies students who went on to challenge professors on campus who did not engage in critical thinking.
When you want to obtain control over a people, you eliminate the thinkers who have the knowledge to speak out, to be critical, to help others. We have seen this time and time again in Communist Countries, even yesterday with the murder of a high profile official in Russia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, thousands if not millions, of educated people were murdered because they had the knowledge.
Knowledge is precious and can be life-saving. Education is more than getting a ticket to find a good job. Life is more than a paycheck. Without General Education classes, and especially without religious studies classes, people cannot well assess their lives, their futures, their employers, and their own religious traditions. I can’t tell you how many times military people have come to me, and told me that they wished with all of their hearts that they had taken a World Religions class with me before they were deployed. Their lives would have been so much richer. They could have taken advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them in foreign ports of call. They would have understood the cultures and experiences better.
Shame on the student who carelessly complains about General Education classes. His mindset is similar to ISIS. Destroy the educated, so we can rule!
(The symbol refers to Yeisous (Jesus), Christos (the Christ), Theos (God), Huios (Son), and Soter or Soteria (Savior or Salvation). (The transliteration is mine.) It was a code that allowed Christians to enter meetings during times of harassment by the government. It saved their lives!
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge