Apache OpenOffice

Please consider making your students aware of this software.  It is reliable and compatible with Microsoft Office.  And it’s free.

Cloud computing is terrific but some students may have older computers or a dial-up connection.  Already several of 12Keystrokes’ students are using OpenOffice


(From their website):

Why Apache OpenOffice: Great Software

Great Software requires great people. Apache OpenOffice is the result of over twenty years’ continuous high quality software engineering. Designed from the start as a single piece of software, Apache OpenOffice has a consistency and a quality that is world class. Its open-source development model means there are no secrets.

  • Better by design

Developed over twenty years, Apache OpenOffice is a mature, reliable, product. OpenOffice was designed from the start as a single piece of software – not bolted together from separate software packages. This makes it very consistent and easy to use – what you learn in one application is immediately usable in another. The context-sensitive help works across all applications, unobtrusively providing the precise help you need. You can even open any type of document from any application – OpenOffice is really one piece of software. It also runs on all major computing platforms – Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Apple Mac – isn’t that great!


“You don’t have to be an armadillo to study armadillos. You don’t have to be an ancient Greek to study ancient Greece. And you don’t have to be a Marxist to study a Marxist.” – from “Of Armadillos and Marxists” (The Read . . . #28)

Orange Dean

Apparently, it does need saying after all.  This too: “In teaching history or politics, the same idea holds. How many ways are there to interpret the industrial revolution? If you say ‘one,’ you’re badly wrong, no matter which one you pick.”

Enjoy the apropos post over at Confessions of a Community College Dean.


“Neoliberal policy makers who have advocated for increased privatization and market-based educational reforms have produced a system that has expanded opportunity for all.” – from Academically Adrift (The Read . . . #27)

The (excerpted) conclusions: both positive and negative outcomes result from applying a market framework/economics discourse to higher education.

The positives may be surprising, but some of the negative effects on student/faculty behaviors should not be – regardless of the reader’s political persuasion.

Who would grant that an economics (or populist) discourse can affect students/faculty?


“[C]hildren from less advantaged families are left to fend for themselves, and in the process they typically reproduce their class location.” – from Academically Adrift (The Read . . . #26)

Typically (as opposed to “obviously”), most people reproduce their class location.

Either at home, at school, or elsewhere, students must learn the cultural competencies that lead to academic success. The culture of higher education isn’t natural, “organic” or neutral. It’s artificial. Like aspartame.

Would any educator suggest (either directly or indirectly) otherwise?

Employing crude imagery/stereotypes (see “First/Second Sketch”), Realist’s brand of populism makes (allegedly) corrupt business/political machinations visible through hyperbole, imagining dire effects wrought upon potential CCC students. In particular, Realist’s representations of these imagined students merit further comment and contextualization, not blind acceptance or willful ignorance, since they are the primary means by which Realist (et al.) appears to re-imagine (the culture/costs/rewards of) higher education as transhistorical.

In any event, “Third Sketch” will examine those representations and imaginings after concluding its foray into Academically Adrift.

CLA Parental Ed CLA AA vs White


“[R]ecent surveys of students and faculty have found that faculty are more likely than students to report that being well off financially is an essential or a very important goal to them.” – from Academically Adrift (The Read . . . #25)

In general at four-year institutions, faculty are not rewarded (very much) for focusing on undergraduate instruction but on research. However, to counter this orientation as well as the quoted survey result in the title of this post, the authors suggest that faculty embrace research to fulfill a “quasi-religious commitment” (see below).

This effectively shifts blame for the commercialization of higher education away from any faculty influenced by financial incentives and onto administration/industry/govt. (which lack a “moral imperative”).

The dichotomy is a bit precious: workers/laborers must often search for (and find) spiritual meaning in what they do. The problem is not that some faculty hear a “calling” but that this frame narrative – similar to the transhistorical/educator-centered discourse that informs Realist’s (et al.’s) writing – works to etherealize the faculty (and the “true” university), their financial concerns and, by extension, the financial concerns of their students. Etherealization does not radically confront commercialization: instead, it mostly maintains the status quo.

(A second consideration: one could suppose that the commercialization of research at four-year institutions is analogous to certain aspects of CCC’s Reinvention and ask if undergraduate instruction suffers of benefits from the application of a market framework/economics discourse. As it turns out, according to the authors, the answer is rather mixed.)

bayh dole site


12Keystrokes wishes to acknowledge the personal reflections President Obama offered this afternoon. (The Read . . . #24.76, Interlude #8)

12Keystrokes wishes to acknowledge the personal reflections President Obama offered this afternoon and not meet those reflections with silence but with an article first read some while ago.  So here is a link to an old article (everything really is on the internet) and its list of 26 benefits packed away in an “invisible knapsack.” 

Of course the article is dated – much richer material/theory has been written since, and no one wishes to treat this topic (or any topic) in a reductive fashion – but precisely because the article is twenty-five years old, it furthers productive conversation by helping to contextualize today’s reflections.

The Title and Note(s) to “The Read . . . #24.5” stand. (The Read . . . #24.75, Interlude #7)

A recent string of comments provides an excellent opportunity to review several working definitions:

Propaganda – Deliberately providing misleading, distorted information. Propaganda can be countered (e.g., with fact-checking). Too often, charges of propaganda are made against one who simply holds an opposing point of view. (The word “propaganda” is not used on the Lounge.)

Pop-Jingo! – 12Keystrokes’ tag for certain aspects of Realist’s (et al.’s) writing; introduced in an effort to create more informative titles for individual posts.

Populism – An interpretive framework; a discourse (which is a set of assumptions that structure a discussion about a topic while the assumptions themselves go unexamined). Populism constructs identity though negation – in opposition to an “Other” – by taking aim at (allegedly) corrupt politicians/government/elite exploitative business interests (“Them”) and generally coming down to scapegoating. In all things, the “Other” is bad/evil.

Jingoism – An overzealous patriotic devotion, jingoistic writing beats the drums during wartime.

Red Herring – Actually, this definition mostly focuses on “invective,” which is strongly abusive language (e.g., cursing) found in many situations: an adolescent’s response to a curfew, a customer upset with a sales clerk, two drivers involved in a fender-bender. Each situation is not the same simply because invectives are present, and to say that they are is to commit a red herring (if not a category mistake). Pop-jingo invectives tilt toward apocalypse. Because everything is at stake – a way of life, souls – the discourse goes beyond mere name-calling to demonizing “Them”: stopping “Them” justifies suspending public debate (and misc. democratic principles). Denying this discursive/structural harm characterizes pop-jingoists.

Formulaic Speech/In-crowd Affirmation – No reasoned debate actually occurs because formulaic speech simply repeats what has already been said about a topic. It is about looking good to an in-crowd and cementing in-crowd credentials; ethos and belonging matter over evidence. It allows an individual to be sincere – even impassioned – while relying on groupthink and/or “stock language” (e.g., slogans, maxims). Argument closes down. The pop-jingoist can only do “good”; dissenting opinions are “bad.” “We” are “Us.” (Note: The need to belong is powerful. It can be a matter of consent as well as coercion/survival.)


Realist (et al.) is doing something: on that, everyone agrees. But without introducing some logic – some textual evidence, theory, or research – to examine exactly what Realist (et al.) is up to, defenders and critics alike will only engage in pop-jingo (invective) or (only) name-calling.

The title and note(s) to “The Read . . . #24.5” stand.

It always comes down to one’s “caricature”: conceding to the use of invective-filled speech acts but denying any harm is characteristic of populists-jingoists/harassers. (The Read . . . #24.5)


12Keystrokes teaches that the aim of argument is communication, not confrontation. (In contrast, quarreling tends to be about “winning” – whatever that might mean to the quarrelers.)

It is not productive to argue over personal preferences (like “best” ice cream flavors or candies).

As they progress in their academic and professional careers and engage with an ever-widening public sphere, students will need to know how to write in (more) formal situations.

It’s all quite standard, really.

12Keystrokes’ position (thus far) remains as follows:

  • We (re)present ourselves textually;
  • Realist (et al.) engages in black-or-white thinking and populist/jingoist/“educator-centered” discourses that rely on an in-crowd’s over-identification with academic degrees/critical thinking (and a curious construction of students’ SES);
  • Realist (et al.) responds to opposing viewpoints with harassment, snipey comments, fallacious reasoning, double-standards (i.e., a flagrant unwillingness to honor the presuppositions that structure reasoned debate) – all of which characterizes populism/jingoism;
  • This list is not complete.

Clearly, Sketches works through the above bullet statements.

Your comment is deceitful. Your assertion that 12Keystrokes is engaged in unwarranted criticism is profoundy unfortunate.  Realist claims anonymity enables a focus on the message, not the messenger.  You focus on anonymity (or “caricature”) to filter the message (and to deflect 12Keystrokes’ focus on the rhetoric of the message).  “Obviously” is an intensifier that asserts epistemic certainty and reinforces assumptions (silences) within a particular community or situation (contexts).  To take something as “given” requires no evidence; thus, your comment is wholly personal (arguing over preferences).  You write Realist is a caricature, a faculty member, a “he” or “she” and – with this layering of selves and unclear pronoun antecedents in place – go on to claim that Realist can be “illogical” or (harmlessly) “annoying” but a “frequent stimulator of productive conversation.”  That last rhetorical ploy simultaneously seeks to establish Realist’s character while directing the reader to place any faults on a caricature (that is, a purely abstract literary device that has somehow animated itself), surely prompting at least one colloquial retort of “How stupid do you think I am?”

An exchange between PhiloDave and 12Keystrokes that took place roughly halfway through Sketches’ four-month run (there were no posts in May) already addresses your other complaints. (Conspicuously, pedantry goes unmentioned, though your concern for that occurs elsewhere.)**

Finally, 12Keystrokes urges no rush to judge the Deen controversy that Realist dangles and pairs so emptily with unresolved Blackhawks comments; instead, 12Keystrokes invites you to consider 1) the CLA performance task, 2) Realist’s puzzlement that inappropriate language is tolerated in one context and not another,  and 3) the fact that Fish’s explanation regarding speech and context was already provided.

This suggests the following:

  • Realist does not read/write carefully enough (or with enough understanding);
  • Realist (instructor at HWC) rushes to distance herself/himself from Deen (celebrity chef);
  • Realist mistakes the simple decision to reject/mute Deen/MTV.com for complex reasoning (which would require some analysis of the limit of “free speech”);
  • Transfer has not occurred.

Exactly what does this “caricature” wish to satirize?

Page’s “Paula Deen’s Menu: Foot in Mouth” jibes with Fish, and both men are correct: thanks to Deen and Realist, there are healthy conversations to be had that have little to do with bicycles. Have those conversations, Kamran.

Or don’t.

*12Keystrokes is not engaged in mere name calling. Quite unexpectedly, this reply made for an excellent summary of Sketches thus far, so the decision was made to contribute it as a separate post.

**Your concerns over pedantry suggest that you have been criticized for it.

Academically Adrift analyzes the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) – a direct (albeit general/“generic”) assessment of critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing – as well as other assessment tools to report that four-year college students are not learning very much, especially during their first two years. Academic degrees may not always be that academic. (The Read . . . #24)


See “The Read . . . #23” for a video re: the book’s findings. Find excerpts from the video/book in “The Read . . . #25.” Click on the following links for reviews/criticism of Academically Adrift.


One can certainly locate Academically Adrift within a long line of similar studies that bemoan the loss of academic rigor in American education, but one cannot easily dismiss the study as yet another rightwing piece in a (policy) narrative that seeks to commodify education: Academically Adrift slants to the political Left. Besides, some readers remember the release of A Nation at Risk (1982) – and the “culture wars” that gave us Closing of the American Mind by A. Bloom and The Western Canon by H. Bloom – so they know at a glance that Academically Adrift does not fit that narrative.

Many educators now entertain the notion that the loss of academic rigor in American education has been ongoing for at least a few decades: arguably, that decline is manifest in Realist’s writing. Consider the sample CLA performance task/snapshots below and the links in https://haroldlounge.com/2013/06/01/pop-jingo-framing-the-stakeholders-goals-and-problems-related-to-reinvention-so-broadly-allows-realist-to-recast-reinvention-as-a-colonization-effort-a-corporate-takeover-and-even-a-civil-war/.

Correction re: “The Read . . . #23”: The video is titled “Learning During Unsettled Times” and presents a talk by one of the authors of Academically Adrift.
cla export one jpeg
CLA export two jpeg

Once again, a post by Realist relies on rhetorical questions to express “concern” for “our students” and their (academic) degrees, but then the post itself demonstrates no identifiable discipline-specific expertise and no critical thinking. Who is served (by that)?* (The Read . . . #23)

A rhetorical question is one that is not answered because the individual posing the question either believes the answer to be self-evident or seeks to provoke an emotional response. No answer is desired. At times, an author can use rhetorical questions to facilitate further discussion. (“Hypophora” is when a question is asked and then answered.)

Many students and a few HWC/CCC faculty and staff answered SFTB’s question. However, the students’ responses did not lead to any kind of sustained discussion facilitated by SFTB, the students’ instructor (who may not have been SFTB), or Lounge authors ( https://haroldlounge.com/2013/04/25/the-read-from-this-side-of-suite-711-20/).  This suggests that the question was rhetorical.

SFTB’s question invokes economic/social class issues but then does not go on to engage those issues. 12Keystrokes has chosen to consider the invocation of those issues by unpacking SFTB’s question, beginning with the concept academic/academic degree. (In later posts, “who is served?” will be considered.)

Academically Adrift/the video above (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGjzmP2rpGo) examines a broad range of 24 diverse four-year institutions but is still applicable to the discussion at hand. It’s also relevant to a discussion about the utility of semester-by-semester program maps.

*Occasional minor errors owing to the casualness of the Lounge or the bustle of work and home do not concern 12Keystrokes. However, 12Keystrokes believes that if one repeatedly invokes the value of academic skill sets, one should demonstrate those skill sets.

It’s perfectly fine for an opinion community to champion writing that stirs the pot, makes “political hay” or performs for an in-crowd, but that community should acknowledge that there isn’t anything particularly academic about the writing. To this plain end, the Sketches have thus far identified two straw men – 1) free speech, and 2) the caveat re: correlation and causation in social science research.

There is a harm caused by Realist’s (et al.’s) writing.

Pop-Jingo (Too). Both academic and non-academic credentials get converted into wages and social prestige and are further converted into many other things, such as social mobility, civic engagement (democracy) – or arguments that pack this process of economic/social conversion into populist, jingoist, and “educator-centered” discourses. (The Read . . . #22)

Cultural Currency

A diploma from an academic college signifies the attainment of certain academic skill sets, while a certificate from a non-academic college signifies the attainment of more “mechanical” skill sets. Both types of credentials are cultural currency that can be exchanged for wages and social prestige. Should graduates be called upon to demonstrate their skill sets but fail to do so adequately, their worth as employees and the worth of their credentials (and/or institutions granting the credentials) may be called into question.


Anyone who has ever purchased faulty repair services for a major appliance (e.g., a furnace or dishwasher) most likely called into question not only the particular repair job but also the technician’s training/certification. It all seems clear cut and measurable with mechanical skill sets: the repaired appliance either will or will not operate.

Academic skill sets are more difficult to measure. For example, as young children we all made many leaps of faith each day when dealing with teachers, counselors, doctors, lawyers, and so on: we didn’t understand all that they were doing, and even if we as children knew their skill sets were inadequate, we weren’t able to articulate an evaluation of those skill sets until we reached adulthood and (ideally) could draw upon a wealth of life experiences and a good education. Looking back on such memories, most would agree that there is a need for more immediate and standardized metrics, particularly when it comes to academic skill sets.

However, as often noted on the Lounge (see https://haroldlounge.com/2013/05/07/true-story/), mere degree completion is a crude indicator, and economic metrics fall short due to the nature of the goods and services created by higher education. (It’s not that the goods and services are immaterial but that critical thinking, say, unlike a widget, cannot be so easily quantified/compartmentalized.) Others (http://citycollegeschicagoreinvention-truths.blogspot.com/2011/04/expose-of-manipulation-of-data-used-to.html) point out that performance data must be comparative and contextual to be meaningful (and not misleading); further, although a performance data analysis may lower the cost and improve the efficiency of widget production, it is less likely to do so when applied to the cost/efficiency of degree production. (For example, factoring in grants, scholarships, government subsidies, level of prepatory education, transfer/non-transfer prior to degree completion, and a host of other variables that living beings bring to the equation clouds the cost/efficiency of degree production.)

Lastly, there is the caveat about correlation and causality when it comes to social science research.*


VFA blurb

VFA might very well address the concerns expressed above. Or not. Read more at http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Resources/aaccprograms/VFAWeb/Pages/VFAHomePage.aspx. More backstory re: the current climate of accountability can be found at http://www.aaup.org/article/accreditation-and-federal-future-higher-education.

Credentials of Academic, non-Academic, and Economic Value

SFTB’s question assumes a simple, reductive correspondence between credentials (like badges) and skill sets. Of course, credentials function as cultural currency, so arguments about the fidelity of metrics belie the simplicity of accurately converting cultural currency (i.e., skill sets) into wages and social prestige. Here on the Lounge the conversion to economic value is particularly suspect while the conversion to “social prestige” is not. For Realist et al. “academic” is privileged over “non-academic” not just because of skill sets but because putative categories of people/professions are already held in place ideologically; consequently, the argument runs that academic degrees likely enable social mobility, uphold democracy, and stimulate capitalism, while non-academic degrees likely enslave their holders to the totalizing logic of capital.

But both academic and non-academic credentials get converted into wages and social prestige and are further converted into many other things, such as social mobility, civic engagement (democracy) – or even arguments that pack this process of economic/social conversion into populist, jingoist, and “educator-centered” discourses. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive.)

As many are fond of saying: follow the money.

Thus, SFTB’s question.

*(Of course setting aside correlative/experimental evidence in order to privilege speculative/anecdotal evidence is a rhetorical ploy on both Don’s and Dave’s part. Other than some tonal similarities, however, the two anecdotes are not parallel. https://haroldlounge.com/2013/05/07/true-story/)

Pop-Jingo! Framing the stakeholders, goals, and problems related to Reinvention so broadly allows Realist to recast Reinvention as a colonization effort, a corporate takeover, and even a Civil War. (The Read. . . #21)

Recall that Realist’s promotion of black-or-white thinking was tracked in “First Sketch” and “Second Sketch.” Sparked by some element that upsets their experience of the status quo, black-or-white thinkers like Realist employ a simplistic “Us/Them” interpretive framework and demonizing rhetoric to give expression to perceived danger, thereby revealing the range – and limit – of their beliefs about themselves and Others.

That’s scapegoating.

In a context other than Reinvention, most Lounge readers would likely recognize Realist’s rhetoric for what it has been – false solutions, dehumanization, the grossly illogical placement of blame on Others. No evidence, no critical-thinking required.

Given the right conditions, many can be bewitched by demonizing rhetoric.

Think back to grad school and learning to avoid race/gender/class bias in your research. Remember, say, that seminar about the effects of “stereotype threat” in the classroom? Or the seminar where H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds was read through xenophobic responses to immigration? That was all about the rhetorical construction of the subject.*

Populism-Jingoism and an “educator-centered” discourse inform Realist’s rhetoric. By using the most general terms, Realist seeks to invoke putative categories of people (professions?) and beliefs already set in place ideologically. Thus (according to Realist) somewhat trans-historical “educators” promote skills and values that enable social mobility, uphold democracy, and stimulate capitalism (which is paradoxical since educators are somewhat trans-historical); in turn, profit-driven corporations/corrupt politicians promote anti-intellectualism at CCC to enslave “Us” (presumably to the totalizing logic of capital).

For Realist, it’s American/Un-American.

Framing the stakeholders, goals, and problems related to Reinvention so broadly allows Realist to recast Reinvention as a colonization effort, a corporate takeover, and even a Civil War. When criticized for these constructions, Realist scapegoats, trivializes, invokes “freedom” (of speech/ democracy). More to the point, framing Reinvention-related issues this way enables Realist to avoid discussing anything specific (e.g., student needs, institutional problems, the relationship between business and education, effective pedagogical practices).

Don’t see that?





https://haroldlounge.com/2011/09/27/the-lounge.special-announcement/ (re: “Trojan Horse”)



SFTB asks, “If there is only one academic school left in a seven school system, who is served?” How this question gets answered need not reinforce Realist’s black-or-white thought process.

*Of course, there is no guarantee that transfer will occur (see The Read #12).

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (#20)

Prefatory remark: This is to speculate, to raise some meta-concerns about responsiveness as opposed to a mere carnality of responding here on the Lounge.  “Third Sketch” follows an elliptical orbit in order to explore some of the putative reasons for a variety of posts, although examination of Realist’s writing remains the core around which the sketch orbits. 


THIRD SKETCH: Context(s) & Silence(s)*

Part One: https://haroldlounge.com/2012/01/24/read-the-whole-thing-after-the-introductory-remarks-the-mayor-lays-out-his-vision-for-city-colleges-if-there-is-only-one-academic-school-left-in-a-seven-school-system-who-is-served/

What community is being addressed in the above title? 

Is the target community in a position to read/receive the post (let alone adjudicate between what is or isn’t “academic”) and willing (or able) to answer the question “who is served?”  

Examining the 1-24-2012 post, one notices that a week later, an instructor’s students posted in response to an assignment.  A tally of those replies results in the following: 

Replies #4 through #32 equal thirty-one separate responses.  (Note: In the tabulation below, several replies are not included due to problems with clarity of expression/meaning.  For example, reply #8 seems to view the mayor’s speech negatively, yet concludes by stating the student has “big plans to move on to Nursing School next fall”; replies #17, #22, and #30 see the pros and cons of the mayor’s plans, then call for a more balanced implementation of the plans.) 

Eleven students view the mayor’s plan negatively: replies #10, 14, 16, 19, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, and 32.  (9 of these students plan to transfer: replies #10, 19, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, and 32.)

Eight students view the mayor’s plan positively: replies #11, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 23, and 28. 

Reply #20 reads: “Not only is this going to affect me in a positive way, but also the following generations after us. I have two younger brothers and when I read this speech, I was happy to know that the Mayor was going to combine major businesses with community colleges to help train students in their field. Although I am a bit upset that Harold Washington wasn’t on his list this year, I am looking forward to the partnerships we have yet to know. I come from a working class family, and with this said, I am thankful that people like Rahm Emmanuel make it easier for people who have a rough time getting an education.”


*It’s a working title.  12keystrokes wants to look at a discourse or two, glance at some presuppositions or preconditions that a community draws upon when having a discussion but that may not always be a part of the community’s discussion.

The Read from Suite 711 (#19.76) Interlude (#6.76)

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Serendipity on Wednesday

Before beginning “Third Sketch,” 12 keystrokes offers one more interlude.

And to anyone who is following “The Read. . . Suite 711” please bear in mind that the lack of credibility in Realist’s writing – as evidenced by the crudity of its demonizing rhetoric (and double-standards/botched pedagogy/non-linear development) – is an issue separate from free speech, academic freedom, the democratizing use of anonymity, or “just funnin’.”  An honest discussion of these latter issues is welcome (and it seems that one such discussion was just conducted by Kamran and Erica).  At present, Realist’s writing promotes a (normative?) bullying culture on the Lounge that depends on denigrating the Other; by definition, “demonizing rhetoric” bullies.

The appeal of Realist’s writing – whatever it may be – is not to be found in its credibility.

The serendipity comes from http://columbiachronicle.com/stand-up-for-women-stand-up-for-equality/ which begins as follows:

“Today’s rape culture promotes the idea that it’s acceptable to joke about domestic violence and make sexist comments against women, and too often women are unfairly reprimanded for speaking out against such behaviors. Trista Hendren, the woman behind Facebook watchdog group Rapebook, which reports misogynistic posts to Facebook administrators, is the most recent example of this.”

The above link is meant to suggest parallels and analogies and not to swing from one extreme to another.

Question: What makes for a productive discussion on a blog?