Break a Leg

In the world of theatre, telling somebody “good luck” before the performance is actually considered bad luck. We say “break a leg” instead.

It’s odd, but we say it. Share your favorite vernacularisms below.

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And the Winners Are…

As you know, UComp sections get to select the topics they’ll study for their in-class essays at the end of the semester. The 10:00 section decided to study the ethics of gender affirmation surgery; the noon section will address capital punishment; the 2:00 section will examine assisted suicide.

If you find links to excellent articles about any of these subjects, please share them here. Thanks!

Posted in Ethics, Science | 8 Comments

Five Days to Go

One of the oldest political adages is that politics is personal. Those who run for an office–any office, from historian of the Philosophy Club to President of the United States–understand that adage more fully than others. Candidates might begin days with a strong sense of purpose and end them with spilled coffee, closed doors, and self-doubt. These people keep working because they believe in their vision and they’re drawn to public service. A tip of the cap to all of you who have run for office, and all of you who will.

The recent invasion of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s home absolutely reinforces the idea that politics is personal, and in the worst possible way. Rep. Pelosi, of course, was among those the January 6 rioters wanted to execute, and her center-left politics continue to make her the object of intense dislike from those on the right. However, our democracy lives and dies by the idea that we get rid of disliked politicians at the ballot box, not by stringing them up outside the Capitol. Political violence, whether it involves a riot or a shooting at a Congressional baseball game or a home invasion, should not be tolerated by any party. Rhetoric that escalates the likelihood of such violence should not be condoned, either.

Express your ideas and political convictions peacefully at the ballot box on Tuesday. If your candidate falters, think about throwing your hat in the ring. The best way to lead is to act.

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments


At the beginning of each school year, I ask juniors how many of them plan to stay in state for college. The majority say–emphatically–that they plan to leave, particularly those who consider themselves part of “forgotten” communities. The Dramatic Performance’s first one act of the semester, Flyover, dramatizes the motivations young people feel as they contemplate their futures. Tell me what you think of the play’s ending.

I’m also curious: what will it take for young people to choose Mississippi rather than flee it?

Posted in Arts, Pop Culture | 7 Comments

Another Cost of Climate Change

Dozens of people died during Hurricane Ian last month. Estimates for the repairing the damage the storm did to Florida and South Carolina range from $30 to $65 billion. As Mississippi’s coastal residents know, it will take years for Floridians to put their homes and their lives back together.

Unfortunately, Ian is probably just the first punch Mother Nature throws during the 2022 storm season. This comes on the heels of a string of tough years for property owners and the insurance companies that protect them. Insurance payouts from 2017 totaled over $300 billion. Even though the financial hits in intervening years haven’t been as heavy, the number of named storm systems has increased, which suggests that people who live in coastal areas will, ultimately, experience more and more difficulty in living there safely.

This means insurance premiums for coastal housing will continue to rise, probably steeply, which will make it difficult for middle class home owners to afford staying where they are. Should the government try to mitigate these costs to make it possible for families to live on the coast? Or should we allow the market to take over–even if it means middle class families move farther and farther away from their roots and their workplaces? Are there other options to consider?

Posted in Ethics, Science | 18 Comments

Banned Books Week

I read banned books. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Huckleberry Finn, from Song of Solomon to The Things They Carried, I find something valuable in wresting with ideas and depictions that other people find dangerous.

Library systems across the country have been asked to remove more books from circulation than ever before. Are some books too dangerous for young people to read? At what point should people be free to read whatever they want?

Posted in Books, Education, Ethics | 32 Comments

Seeking Organizational Advice

Next week, I plan to order 15 new podcasting mics for students in the podcasting course to use. This will address the biggest criticism of the course from last year: that I had way too few mics to accommodate the students who needed to use them. The new mics will bring the total available to 20.

What will be the best way to manage access to this equipment? The sign-out/sign-in system I’ve used has not been efficient. Imposing deadlines on groups so that other groups have access hasn’t worked, either. Your input here will shape how this gets done in the not-too-distant future.

Posted in Education, Social Media | 19 Comments

One Sentence Conundrums

Respond to a couple of these. Consider applying them to contemporary events.

Can a person make a conscious decision to deal with problems by relegating them to the subconscious?

When leaders say equitable, do they really mean redistribution of wealth?

Do you agree with the premise that the best way to prepare people for a specific profession lies in educating them broadly?

How can a show of force actually induce a meaningful peace?

How should institutions balance morality and efficacy?

Which seems more true: that discussions of controversial subjects should be avoided, or that most things worth discussing involve controversy?

Posted in Education, Ethics, Politics | 9 Comments

Rah, Rah, Sis-Boom-Bah

Most MSMS students have friends back home who will miss class time for pep rallies today. MSMS cannot field a football team for obvious reasons. We don’t have enough students to field a competitive team. Students do not have enough time to practice or work on strength and conditioning. Participating in too many team sports cuts against the history and culture of the school.

The list could go on.

I did not play football past seventh grade. I chose to attend LSMSA in part because I wanted to focus on academics more than athletics. But my sons played the game, if you count being a kicker as being a football player, and they loved it.

Do MSMS students miss the spectacle of football? Is there something we can or should do to replace it here, given the mission and history of the school?

If you’re interested, here’s the link to the greatest poem ever written about football, James Wright’s 1963 classic, “Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio.”

Posted in MSMS Stuff, Sports | 29 Comments

The First Fortnight

Now that MSMS has been in session a couple of weeks, it might be a good idea to reflect on things that really worked well during this orientation and indoctrination period, and which things still need improvement. Praise and criticize constructively. Reflect on both the academic and residence life aspects of our program. Note as well that admin read suggestions from last year and incorporated them into this year’s orientation.

Posted in Education, MSMS Stuff | 28 Comments