SCRAPS FROM THE EDITOR'S
These are excerpts from a regular column in The Vector an informal,
unofficial, and unheralded publication I edited during my years
teaching at Lock Haven University. In response to overwhelming
demand (a couple of people at least) these are being archived here
for those strange people who enjoy wallowing in nostalgia.
Some of the references to then-current events may be puzzling, but
feel free to skip them, or relate them to more recent events of similar
nature (which can always be found). References to internal politics
at Lock Haven University may be easily transferred to situations at other
academic institutions. A few explanatory comments have been added in
Vol. 3 No. 1. Dec 1978
FINAL ISSUE OF THE VECTOR
No, don't get your hopes up. This isn't the last issue (that
issue preceded this one). It won't be the last to appear either,
it is just the issue which comes out before FINAL exams.
Old readers know this, but new readers should be forewarned:
Anyone who believes everything he reads in THE VECTOR is hopelessly
naive. If it seems that some of our humor is irreverent,
absurd, and unfair, then we have at least partially succeeded in
our intent. If we have left some persons or institutions unoffended,
rest assured that we are working on the problem and
will try to get around to those we have overlooked. Some targets
are easier to make fun of than others. Some have been slighted
not because they were undeserving of needling, but because we
have been unable to do justice to the task. We strive to maintain
a certain style: light, slightly acerbic, and just a bit
outrageous. One of these days we might achieve it.
Every large organization experiences the phenomena of the
anonymous memo, usually of a humorous nature. We reprint an
We have seen this one at least three times,
from different sources, but identical in content. We have no idea
who might be the genius who originated it originally! If anyone
knows, tell us, and we will give him due credit. We have noticed
that these things sometimes suffer from copyist' errors as they
pass from hand to hand. This one, as received, bore the name
"Benjamin Platinus", which makes little sense. We strongly suspect
that an error crept in as someone retyped this, and have
"corrected" it to Plotinus. (Plotinus was a Neoplatonic
philosopher of the 3rd century AD.)
Now we do have a "department of English and philosophy" here at
Lock Haven. This is a conjugation about as viable as the mythical
[Why should we have to explain everything? Look it up in your
Funk end Wagnalls.]
Yet, I assure you that we have no one in that
department with the name "Plotinus".
We expect to put out another issue of THE VECTOR this academic
year, in early spring. In addition to the usual ephemera, it will
contain a recap on the outcome of our psychic predictions made
last year, and a survey of how the professional seers'
forecasts failed. We will also publish, at long last, the definitive
biography of that ancient sage,
Anon. We may even get around
to the answers to the science history quiz! [We didn't, but
now you can read the answers to the
Science History Quiz. here.]
Your editor receives written tidbits from a variety of
questionable sources. The motives of the senders are often
unclear. Some may intend these for publication, and some are
published. Others end up in a file for later consideration,
having not struck the editor in a receptive mood when received.
This file is generally reviewed, often in desperation, as the
deadline approaches for another issue.
Some contributions may well be unsuitable to our high standards of taste and
sophistication. Some, we suspect, were sent to us by someone who was
weeding out junk from his own files.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
In the recent debates over Student Cooperative Council
[the student governing body] funding of athletic programs, I
noted one comment which was especially interesting and worthy of
serious analysis. In a letter to the Eagle Eye, a student urged
greater funding of sports programs, arguing their great value to
the college, and noting the service the coaching staff provides
by recruiting students for the college. This student then said,
"What has the English department done for the college lately?"
Now this slur was surely not intended merely for the English
department, but for all of the academic departments, that is,
most of the departments outside of Physical Education.
But it is a question
worth pondering. How many football games has the history
department won for us lately? Has the philosophy faculty helped
us in any way to win a wrestling meet? How many paintings and
sculptures glorifying athletes has the art department produced?
Are these other departments doing their share in promoting the
most important function of this school, namely athletics?
We must note that the music department is doing its bit providing
rousing music at athletic events.
But to return to the English department; this department does
deserve criticism. The very fact that Howard Cosell continues to
pontificate on national television is all too audible
testimony to the fact that English departments have
utterly failed to teach Americans to speak their own language;
even to know the difference between good English and specious
Clearly the student who questioned the value of the "rest of the
college," is representative of a very large segment of opinion in
this community. One need only look at the coverage of college
news in the Lock Haven Express and in the Eagle Eye to become
convinced that in the eyes of most people, sports are the primary
and most important function of the college. The administration
recognizes and supports this view by funding the physical education
programs out of proportion to the academic programs. And the
College Board apparently concurs in this, probably because they
know very little of what really goes on at the college beyond the
In view of these facts of life, perhaps the time has come for a
realignment of the college structure to more accurately reflect
the commitments of the community, the students, and the
administration. I suggest that this can be brought about by
renaming the school, "The Lock Haven State College of Athletics."
All of the formerly academic departments will then become
subdivisions of the "school of athletics". This will immediately
eliminate friction between sports and other departments, for
there would be no other departments.
Think of the improved efficiency which would will result from
this reorganization. The physics
and chemistry faculty will devote their entire attentions
to such important matters as the physics of body mechanics and
the chemistry of training table nutrition. The geography faculty
will handle the essential task of preparing maps to enable the
teams to find their way to off-campus sporting events. The
history faculty will chronicle the past glories of the teams, and
offer courses in history of sport.
The English faculty will reorient their activity to the writing
of athletic press releases. The time of the campus
services people will be entirely devoted to videotaping sports
events. And this mew focus of priorities will completely
eliminate any need for a library; a great saving of money.
The mathematics profs will take over the important task of
calculating team statistics. The computer science people will
work out new football strategies. The entire energies of the
music and drama specialists will go into providing spectacular
half-time entertainments. The art students can design team
uniforms. The philosophy faculty will offer courses in the
philosophy of sports, while their specialists in ethics do
research to find a convincing proof of the proposition that
sports are the most important human activity. This will at last
bring faculty people in all of these areas into service to the
college, instead of being academic drones and parasites.
All faculty members will go out to recruit athletes (or
else!). But with a curriculum such as this, entirely devoted to
what people really like (sports); and to fun, instead of dull
academic drudgery; you can be certain students would come in
droves to enroll at Lock Haven.
As such a reorganized college begins to function, expansion of
its programs will surely result. Medical training programs will
soon be required, to handle all of the sports injuries, and to
research drugs and procedures for improving athletic performance.
No longer will faculty in different disciplines squabble over
their cut of dwindling college financial support. All
disciplines will be part of the School of Athletics, and
receive support in proportion to their service to the sports
This may seem a utopian idea, but current trends would lead me to
believe it will become reality sooner than we might think.
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