At the Gym

In pursuit of my challenge, I’m at the gym. An incredibly loud personal trainer next to me is brainstorming with clients how to explain to her 5-year-old grandson that “dinosaurs are not real and it’s those archeologist people who invented them to undermine our religious faith.” A client gently objects that no, dinosaurs are real but they all “died in the flood of Noah.”

After this matter is put to rest, the trainer and the clients discuss how much they hate the university because “it takes too much space.”

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18 thoughts on “At the Gym”

  1. Christians debating with each other! Of course, the truth is that the bones people have recently called dinosaur bones are, in fact, dragon bones. The dragons were all killed in midæval times by heroic knights.

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  2. Town-gown relations at their finest!

    I’m not enough of an extravert misanthrope to start talking about how man & dinosaur existed together because it says so in The Flintstones. However the dinosaurs rebelled against their rightful masters and then God got mad and then destroyed the Flintstones’ civilization, thus wiping out the dinosaurs and the sabretooth tigers. We are now in the lost time before The Jetsons. It’s all in Hanna-Barbera 51:32.

    It works if you intone it with complete seriousness.
    (It does not work.)

    I would be sure to ask the trainers certifications, since they will undoubtedly try to upsell you again. You don’t want some dumb clown who doesn’t believe in science trying to make you do something that might injure you.

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    1. That’s a good point. This week the gym opened an on-site injury clinic. I wonder if that has anything to do with them hiring anti-science personal trainers.

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    1. The only thing that could have made the situation even better was somebody who’d start ranting about the devil. I totally missed an opportunity to do that.

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  3. My friend… what can I do to get you out of this place and bring you where I work. I think that all my administrative energies will go towards that goal: bring you here.

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      1. I swear that I will use all my administrative energies for one goal: to bring you here… or somewhere around here. And yes for Seattle 2018.

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  4. Re: the university taking up too much space. Non-university people where I am love to rant about the university doing this or that, and about businesses catering to students, and about how nothing ever gets built except more apartments for students. It’s just bizarre because this town would barely exist without the university. The university is by far the largest employer and several of the other large employers are spin offs from university research or businesses that somehow benefit from proximity to the university. No one would be here without the university.

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    1. Same here! On the one hand people bitch about the university, but on the other, they keep telling stories about how they used to have to drive 30 miles to buy groceries because there was literally nothing here. We’ve had two new Starbucks spring up around here just since I came. Sam’s club, two new entertainment centers, etc. They love this part of it but don’t seem to understand that there’s no other industry at all here except for the university.

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      1. That’s even worse than here. My university was founded in the 19th century and has been the largest thing in town for longer than anyone has been alive. I think some people who grew up here just don’t see how the non-university things are mostly here because of the university; e.g. we have a large VA hospital, but it’s close to the much larger university hospital and the VA takes advantage of the many specialists and specialized facilities at larger university hospital. If there were no university and no university hospital, there also be no VA hospital here. I can only think of one semi-large employer in the area that doesn’t have some connection to or derive some benefit from the presence of the university.

        It sounds like your town has seen positive change with the growth of the university in living memory and people still can’t accept that it’s a good thing.

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        1. We are a fairly new school, and until quite recently we were a commuter school, so people would drive in from STL and then drive back, so the town didn’t grow. We were a small, pale shadow of our important sister school 5 hours away. But we’ve had some really great leadership, and the school experimented meteoric growth. Our sister school is dying and will probably not survive. And we are going stronger and stronger. So this changed the whole area as a result because we are now not a vocational commuter college but a real university. Of course, this is a huge blow for some of the old guard colleagues who were happy to be working at a vocational commuter college with low expectations and a minimal workload. So there are constant tensions between the old model and the new model. So it’s even the case that some academics can’t accept the changes.

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          1. I think every university has an old guard fighting some sort of change. At my university, the central issue is coming to terms with the fact that we can no longer afford to have graduate programs in every field imaginable and a large numbers of tenure-track faculty with 2-2 teaching loads who do nothing but teach advanced seminars for six or seven students. The old guard here has been highly resistant to the idea that faculty hires and resource allocations should be connected to student numbers and what it costs the university to offer different courses. I wouldn’t say that our administrators have always been perfectly fair and transparent in their decision making, but it would be better for everyone if we could all agree that student demand and tuition revenues are relevant and legitimate issues in decision making.

            Fortunately, much of the old guard has finally retired and there are more pragmatists around in the humanities who understand that we need to develop new courses and programs that attract students, make our courses better and more interesting, and do more things to attract students and encourage them to continue with us.

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            1. At my university, the central issue is coming to terms with the fact that we can no longer afford to have graduate programs in every field imaginable and a large numbers of tenure-track faculty with 2-2 teaching loads who do nothing but teach advanced seminars for six or seven students.

              These faculty are certainly justified if they bring in lots of grant money. Grant money is easier to come by in STEM than in humanities, but it exists in both. Thus, the standard for grant money justifying a particular appointment needs to be biased in favor of humanities.

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              1. There wouldn’t be any issues if the people who did all the belly-aching were pulling in lots of grant money. This is all much more along the lines of “we should keep teaching French teapots of the middle ages because we have always taught French teapots of the middle ages” and “how can we be a real university without a historian of the medieval French teapot?” Meanwhile the soon to retire (and not be replaced) Historian of the Medieval French teapot is teaching the same rotation of courses he’s taught for thirty or forty years with minimal updates to an ever dwindling number of students.

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