Retrenchment, Day 36

Several unrelated things happened over the past 24 hours that struck me as interesting. First, I attended a Tech Council meeting that lasted about three and a half hours over Zoom. There's a lot going on, lots of committees had reports and things to discuss. One thing that struck me was that the retrenchment at BSU wasn't something everyone was aware of. It's one of the top things on my mind, of course. And I'm keeping it there by writing about it daily, to remind me to do something positive to keep moving toward my goal of having something to do after this academic year. But it was news to some people in the meeting yesterday. They weren't aware that BSU was in trouble, much less that it was cutting 15% of faculty.

Next surprise came when I went out for a beer and some wings with a friend who teaches at Red Lake Tribal College. While BSU is retrenching tenured faculty (including his wife who has been there for decades!) because enrollment has fallen to half what it was five yers ago, the tribal college's enrollment is exploding. They're having problems of growth while we are shrinking. Maybe we should be looking very closely at what they're doing.

Then the final surprise when I got home was that my father has COVID pretty bad and in the morning is going on Paxlovid. This concerns me, although when my mother-in-law had COVID pretty bad, that drug seems to have done her good and she didn't have a rebound. As I think about it, the reason I'm concerned is because I no longer trust big pharma, the CDC, or the media to tell the truth about anything COVID-related. This is not the way it's supposed to be. The situation we're in, where information has been weaponized to the point where our choice is either to believe "conspiracy theories" about regulatory capture or to believe corporations known to be the most egregious liars, on the basis of the fines they've actually paid for lying and then shrugged off as the cost of doing business.

Often in the last couple of years I've heard people mention "the good old days" when our institutions and the media could be believed. When Walter Cronkite was voted the most trusted man in America. When the business plan of news organizations was not to polarize and find a niche. We miss that. I'd argue that there were problems with the consensus of the 1950s and early 60s, and we shouldn't be too nostalgic about what amounted to a great extent to manufactured consent. Now at least we know there are dissenting voices and the center is trying to hold on by suppressing them. But it's uncomfortable and exhausting and it extends beyond the media to cause distrust of everything. We need to figure out what to do about it.

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