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Bob Levey
Bob Levey
(Barbara Tyroler)
Levey Live Archive
Column: Bob Levey
Metro Section
Talk: Metro message boards
Live Online Transcripts

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Levey Live: Speaking Freely
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, March 28, 2003; 1 p.m. ET

"Levey Live: Speaking Freely," hosted by Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, appears every Friday. It is a live, open-agenda discussion offering washingtonpost.com users around the world the opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics of their choice with Bob.

Fearless Bob takes your questions about virtually everything, from sports and politics (there's a difference?) to world events, Metro area traffic and issues raised in Bob's columns.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Bob Levey: Live! From New York! It's the discussion show that splits your sides and expands your brain! It's Levey Live: Speaking Freely, that every-Friday interlude that ranges across every question known to man, and a few that aren't. As always, your humble proprietor is armed with black coffee, half a liter of water and two smokin' typing fingers. For the next hour, the agenda is whatever you clicksters would like it to be.
Why is the Bob Bear in New York today? Because he, Jane the Perpetual Trophy Wife and World's Greatest Son are winding up a week of checking out colleges.
Today, I come to you from the top floor of Low Library at Columbia University, within five blocks of the Bobster's boyhood home (no, they haven't put a plaque in the lobby YET!) Lydia Gardner has been kind enough to let me hack on her spare computer. My thanks to her.
All set?
Let's rock...


Springfield, Va.: Robaire!

Where have you been? I am badly in need of a "BL's Washington" fix!

Bob Levey: Never fear. BL's Washington returns with a vengeance on Monday.
Where haven't we been? We've been to Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and today New York. What a fascinating week and what a fascinating process. Hunting down colleges is not for the faint of heart. But I will say this: The kids are having a great time. It's the wary, haggard parents who look as if they're about to have root canals.


Landover, Md.: If your book is turned down by the publishers, are you going to self publish it? I want a copy one way or the other.

What did you do on your vacation?

Bob Levey: No, I won't self-publish it. I (or more precisely, my agent) will just keep knocking on doors, and hoping.
As the saying goes, all it takes is one person to say yes.

Most of what I've done on vacation is aim the station wagon to the right of the white line, while Jane navigates and Allie either does homework or complains about our taste in music. But it has been a terrific adventure despite the vagaries of motels and the terrors of Chinese restaurants in strange cities (we seem to have survived).


Washington, D.C.: What surprises me is how little the antiwar movement learned from Vietnam. The Vietnam movement was composed mainly of spoiled middle class white kids whose parents got them out of Vietnam. What arrogance to be a child of privilege and to SPIT on the poor and helpless who fought the war in their place. Working class Americans have never forgiven them for that. The anti-war movement has never done a brutal self-analysis, corrected their past faults, or done anything to heal the pain they caused the Vietnam Vets. They are so caught up in "It's us against the world" attitude that they are incapable of evaluating their faults. Today the same situation exists. In fact many anti-war people hate being associated with the anti-war movement. Even those who are against the war, reject their naïve and hateful "America is responsible for all the world’s problems" attitude. When will they learn?

Bob Levey: I can't disagree with a bit of your analysis about the war in Vietnam. Spitting on returning soldiers was one of the worst things I've ever seen.
Vietnam was all about connections and privilege to save you from getting shot at. It was one of the least democratic wars in our democratic history.
But I wouldn't agree that the same old crowd opposes this war.
In fact, despite the polls, which force you to choose between two alternatives even when neither fits exactly, I'd say the majority of the country is split about the conflict.
If you look only at the street demonstrators, you might see a disproportionate number of young people--so it might seem to be Vietnam II. But I've been all over the country in the last two weeks, and I've heard antiwar sentiment from grandmas, third graders, politicians, cabbies, bartenders, chambermaids--all sorts of people. You weren't hearing anything like that from most of the sectors after eight days of the war in Vietnam.


Montgomery County, Md. Gripe: I had business at the county courthouse in Rockville this morning.

I had to take my 8-month-old son with me.
Imagine my dismay when he filled his diaper. Now imagine my dismay when I discovered that there is no diaper changer on the wall in the ladies room at the courthouse. Nor was there any clean counter space in the ladies room. (Actually, I don't think there were any clean surfaces in the ladies room. I've used gas station facilities that were more appealing.)

The woman behind the information desk told me to use one of the benches. When I told her it was a dirty diaper, not just wet, she directed me to an area in the far corner -- so I could have some privacy.

How much could it cost the county to install two foldaway diaper decks (one in the mens room as well, please)? How much could it cost the county to keep the ladies room clean?

Bob Levey: Bulletin to the modernity-challenged folk in Rockville:
Get with it.
Thanks for this one.


33rd and M St. NW, Washington, D.C. : Happy Friday Bob!

I am one of the "unlucky" souls that work in the vicinity of the big sinkhole on Banks St. (actually my building is next to it!).

Needless to say my colleagues and myself have been saying something bad was going to happen. For the past year (actually more since the relocation of Cheesesteak Factory and the closing of the liquor store), there have been a multitude of problems and hassles associated with this project. Annoying? Definitely -- most days you can hear blasting or the drilling noises. Not to even mention that they are doing this during work hours and that apartments are next to the drilling site as well.

So. I hope you will proud of me -- since my car is now marooned in the garage I have had to learn how to use Metro again -- and it's not that bad! Who knows how long my car will be stuck there but at least Metro and my feet will work!

Bob Levey: Well, this is one way to get a city dweller to park a set of wheels.
I wish I could hold out hope of a fast resolution to this one.
I can't.
Hang in there, 33rd and M.



Washington, D.C.: Hello Bob,

Just a question to toss out ... Why, oh why, won't people give up a seat on Metro to an obviously pregnant woman? OK, ok, the pregnant woman is me -- eight months, huge belly, swollen legs, bad balance, the whole ugly picture. But I have to stand the whole way in to work while able bodied men (and women) in business gear and military guys in uniform (!) sit in their seats (including the handicapped reserved spots).

I'm at the point of asking them to shift out of the handicapped spots ... even though technically I'm not handicapped, I sure feel like it!

What do you think? Or should I just lose my balance and fall in their laps?

Bob Levey: Ask.
It's the only way.
Even men who would be very sympathetic are lost in thought, or lost in the sports page, or lost in Bob Levey's Washington, and they aren't looking around.
Nor would it always be safe--or politically correct--to do so.
A man who studies the bellies of women on the Metro, to see who might be pregnant and therefore in need of his chivalry, might be busted!
Also, I'm afraid that some women are merely tubby in the midsection and not pregnant. It's a little much to ask every man sitting in a train to offer a seat to every woman who has a bit of a lump in hr middle, for whatever reason. The embarrassment potential is huge!
Limber up those vocal cords, Washington, and get what you're due.


Bladensburg, Md.: If Washington, D.C. can fund the building of a baseball stadium to the tune of over $400,000, then they bloody well ought to be able to fund the replacement of broken down schools and more teachers. The stadium is an ego-ride for the well-to-do, education is a desperate necessity. If these kids are not educated, then trouble and crime are what most of them are headed for. The mayor and the business community need to wake up on this issue.

Bob Levey: I think we need to do both, and can do both. Remember that school replacement and reconstruction can be offset--in whole or in part--by federal $$$. It's not as if these two needs/wants are competing for the same bucks.


Northern Virginia: Bob:
I heard this morning that they have renamed an airport near Nasiriyah captured by US troops "Bush International Airport." What do you think of that? If we went there to "liberate" the Iraqis, what business do we have to rename anything, let alone naming it after the person who ordered the invasion?

Bob Levey: I've been badly out of the loop on war news, so I can't address this one with any authority. My initial question: Is this a formal renaming, or just a nickname laid on this airstrip by GIs?


Norman, Okla.: Dear Bob the Great,

I must respectfully disagree with your March 19 column about the kid majoring in anthropology. I majored in anthropology and I regret the hell out of it. Since graduating, I have been stuck in dead end, entry-level jobs as are all of my friends that majored in useless humanities. I wish I had listened to my parents and majored in a technical field. All of my friends that majored in accounting, engineering, or some other technical field are doing great. So I am finally doing the first smart thing I have ever done -- I am going back to school in August to be a nurse. At least I will always have a job and people will fight to recruit me, especially with all the Baby Boomers getting old and sick.

Also, when I was in college, I was a Resident Adviser. You would not believe the number of parents that called me to ask about what their kids were up to. I have heard it all. At the start of the fall semester, a young lady's parents actually pulled her out of school when she didn't get into the sorority that they wanted her to be in.

Which leads me to this little tid bit of advice. 1. Parents -- keep nagging you kid to major in a technical field. Very few anthropology majors actually get to work for Bob. 2. Kids -- find a way to pay your own way for school so you don't deal with parents that threaten to cut you off if you don't do what they tell you to. It's not like it's hard to pay for school -- I did it for four years without a dime from my parents. Grow up already!

Bob Levey: Dear Norman the Great: I'm sorry your early career hasn't gone well, and I salute your decision to return to school. Yet I stand by my advice.
Learning to think is what college is about. It's not a job-preparation service. Attacking a problem you've never seen before, and figuring out how to solve it, is the essence of any career.
A solid liberal arts education--and a major that requires you to analyze--is the ticket. Nothing against technical fields. They're fine for those who are so inclined. But an anthropology major can be any of the following: butcher, baker, candlestickmaker, politician, journalist, businessperson, just about anything. A techie can be a techie. So which path offers the largest number of options?
No question that parents are super-intrusive. They need to get a clue.
Thanks and good luck in nursing.


A Male Subway Rider: I agree. Just ask us. I'm reading my Washington Post, not staring at every person who gets on the train. I'll be happy to give up my seat if I see someone in need, but if I'm not looking, I can't tell that you need a seat.

Bob Levey: As I said...
Thanks


Washington, D.C.: Hey Bob, thanks for always being on time for these chats. They are a great way to end the work week while munching on a sandwich. Now don't disappoint, I expect some silver-tongued prose today!

Bob Levey: Hey, I'm paddling as fast as I can!
Seriously, after a week of motel rooms, the only thing that's silver is my hair. But I'll try to get cranked.


Montgomery County, Md.: Did you check out Brandeis? Terrific school, great location.

Bob Levey: Not on this round. We "did" Middlebury, Dartmouth, Williams and (today) Columbia.


12th Floor Metro Center, Washington, D.C.: Bob, it seems like you've been taking more time off lately than in previous years. Not that I'm begrudging you because you deserve the break, but I need my Levey fix. Can you fit in a performance of "Hairspray" during your stay in NYC?

Bob Levey: Actually, I'm taking less time off in 2003 than usual--at least for now. But the bell will soon toll (how's that for silvery prose?).
The new union rules at The Post require me to use up all my "banked" vacation between now and the end of 2005. Sounds like a snap--until you consider that I already have seven weeks in the can and will have amassed an additional 13 weeks by then.
That means I have to take 20 weeks off in the next 32 months!
If that sounds like a bonanza, you haven't been on the road lately. Taking a deep breath costs $50.
I may use the lion's share of this time to hack another book--just sit at home and be a hermit and hack, hack, hack, pausing only to pet the cat or eat a tuna fish sandwich.
I know, I know, it sounds like a real thrill. But if I don't take the time, I'll lose it, and even I'm not that dopey.


Washington, D.C.: Bob,

A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a sunny afternoon in Georgetown when I saw a Metrobus go by with an ad featuring the following in giant letters: "TRAFFIC SUCKS." (It was an ad for a radio station.)

Maybe I'm just getting old -- but doesn't that strike you as totally inappropriate?

Bob Levey: TOTALLY!
Thank you for saying so.
The indiscriminate use of this word is way, way over the banks.
Metro should have turned this ad down.


Big Tipper: Bob:

Does one add the gratuity to the amount of the bill before taxes or after?

Bob Levey: The "manners" books say before. I say after. The difference is usually a buck. Big deal.


Vienna, Va.: Bob,

Have you grown any taller now that you don't have that extra weight holding you down?

Bob Levey: Not so as you'd notice.
By the way, Bob reports on the anniversary of his diet in his April 7 column. Be sure to catch it.


Rookie fan....: Bob, Glad to see that "The Rookie" was on your list of must see movies. I will be interested if one particular moment moves you like it moved me ( and I mean in a teary eyed sort of way!)

Bob Levey: I plan to start on the 10 movies this Sunday. I'm going to choose the order at random, so I can't day that "Rookie" will be an early "watch," despite the impending arrival of an immensely large umpire on my TV screen, chanting "Play balllllllllllllll!"


For Oklahoma: Wow, bitter much? I graduated with a degree in English Literature. If my parents had asked me to pick a technical field so I would be successful, I would have been so angry with them! Myself, and all my other liberal arts (aka useless) major friends have all found jobs with upward mobility. Some have gone back to school (another useless degree? The horror!) The thing we all have in common is that we are doing what we love. Perhaps the fact that you live in Oklahoma has something to do with your job dissatisfaction? Try going to where the jobs are, that's what people do even with 'useful' degrees.
Oh and if your parents can pay for college so that you are not saddled with debt for years like I am, more power to you.
Sorry for the rant.

Bob Levey: I post this so Oklahoma will see that it ain't just me, babe, no, no, it ain't just me, babe, who feels the way I do about liberal education.


Rockville, Md.: Ahhh, I can hear the great sounds of Opening Day already. Are you excited for the new season?

What's your greatest baseball memory, Bob? Back in the day when you could go see Walter Johnson pitch? (Ha ha, just kidding, you aren't that old.) What was your favorite team growing up?

Bob Levey: I'm very excited for the new season, as long as you promise me I don't have to watch (or care about) the Baltimore Horribly-Oles.
That team may break the record of the 1962 Mets for fewest games won. There's barely one serious major leaguer among the everyday starting 8. This could be a 50-112 team, easy.
My greatest baseball memory: Watching Virgil Trucks hurl a no-no for the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium in something like 1954.
My funniest baseball memory: going to see the Yankees one day and sitting with my father and brother in a box behind the Yankee dugout (my Dad had bummed the seats from some biggie--they were WAY out of our price range). As the Yanks came off the field after one inning, my brother (age six or so) stood and shouted at Joe Collins, the first baseman: "Hey, Collins, you're old!" If looks could kill....
I loved the Yanks as a lad in the Bronx. But that was like rooting for IBM in those days. They always won.
I dunno how I missed The Big Train, but somehow I did.....


Herndon, Va.: Mr. L: As a Vietnam Vet (one of the spit-on in the San Francisco airport coming back from my second tour), let me note that I believe that many of the protesters are not anti-US, just plain anti war against Iraq. I share their sentiments against this war, to a large degree. Some of this is timing, too. My wife (who was fervently anti-Vietnam war) and I joke that if we'd met then, instead of the late 1970s, we'd not only not have been married, we wouldn't have even talked to each other. (screamed at maybe, talked, no.)

Bob Levey: This is exactly what I was trying to say, Herndon. Thank you for saying it so well.
In this situation, it isn't a question of being pro- or anti-killing. No one is for killing. The issue here is whether you buy (or don't buy) Bush's black-and-white way of viewing Iraq and the Middle East. That is a far more complicated question, and it is leading to far more complicated emotions.


Washington, D.C.: Bob,

I know that people have a right to protest against the war in Irag. My question is: Do you really think that Bush is gonna look out of the oval office window and say "Geeze Whiz, I am going to change my mind, end the war, and bring everyone back because of that guys sign out there he is holding up." Did protesting the war in the 60s help? Does protesting the war even help in today's times?

Bob Levey: Protesting the war in the 1960s helped IMMENSELY! Far fewer people died because the war ended sooner than it might have otherwise.


Levey Query: I have an interesting question...you mentioned your April 7 column. How far ahead do you write your columns, or do you just sketch out a few each week? I can imagine it's tough writing one every day!

Bob Levey: I generally write three or four days ahead. That can slip to one or two days if my schedule begins to press. It can expand to five or six if I know I have to travel and I have to "cover" days when I know I won't be at a keyboard. FYI, I've already written (and left in the can) columns for March 31, April 1-4 and April 7.


Reston, Va.: Now that you've listed the schools you visited, Bob, I'm sure there's going to be an outpouring of "go here!" and "go there!"

So shamelessly, I'm plugging Williams -- my brother and I both went there and, despite the incredibly hefty price tag, had great collegiate experiences. He ended up being an newspaper reporter in Alaska (!) and I'm here in the North Virginia burbs, churning out Marketing fluff.

Go Purple Cows!

Bob Levey: We were all tremendously taken by Williams.
As the saying goes, it isn't for everybody. It's in a very small town in a very rural area (upper left-hand corner) of Massachusetts. But it is very well-endowed, and therefore very well staffed and very well equipped. It teaches with real professors, not grad students and not adjuncts. It has excellent balance among its students--geographically, racially and culturally. It takes female students seriously. And (BIG for my son), the soccer team wins!


You Have a Cat?: I would've thought you a dog person.

Bob Levey: Dogs look like too many members of my immediate family. Cats and I have CONVERSATIONS!


Washington, D.C.: Is a trip to Wesleyan on the horizon? I loved it there ... great education, and an environment that challenges students to be socially (as well as academically) active. And let me back you up -- a liberal arts education will get you anywhere.

Bob Levey: Wes will probably be in the next crop. So will a few mid-majors (the Patriot League schools), as well as a few state universities in the midwest.
For any University of Chicago folk out there:
Don't even ASK if World's Greatest Son is considering his papa's alma mater.
He was heard to sniff: "Daddy's school."
End of discussion.


Washington, D.C.: Hmph. I was an anthropology major (cultural, at that) and I'm doing just fine, working for a nonprofit association, making a decent salary and enjoying my work.
Plus, I have an enhanced appreciation for and curiosity about the wide variety of cultures on the planet, I've learned to enjoy a wider range of books, art and music, and I'm less inclined to think that my particular religious and cultural beliefs are the Only Good Way, Handed Down by God Herself at the Beginning of Time.
I think the wannabe techie just didn't have enough imagination and/or initiative to find one of the great liberal-arts/social-science jobs out there. You get a tech degree, it gives you a clear path to a tech job. You get an anthropology or philosophy or literature degree, and it gives you six hundred different paths, which may be harder to find and more overgrown than the big wide-open techie path, but which may lead you someplace more interesting in the long run.

Bob Levey: Beautifully put. Thanks so much.
What I think our pal in Oklahoma may have missed is that life is a long, long learning adventure. You don't choose a major so you can get a job the day you graduate and then shut off your brain for the rest of your life.
In my case, a great liberal arts education made me (and continues to make me) curious about everything I encounter. I'm ENGAGED with my universe, which is just what Plato and Aristotle and that whole posse wanted me to be.


Ballston, Va.: Hi, Bob --

We had a colleague of husband's from NYC staying with us on a brief visit. He was thinking about returning for an impromptu vacation with family next month, UNTIL he had the chance to look around downtown and see that most of the Federal Area looks to be an armed camp. His question, which I repeat to you, WHY would anyone come to DC nowadays? Can't tour the White House, can't tour the Capitol, going to Museums and even Lunch at the Reagan bldg requires security checks. He acknowledged the need for added security, just said he wouldn't want to vacation with it.

Sigh.

Bob Levey: Washington has always had a sense in the air--of possibility, of power, of purpose, of seriousness. That's there today, despite all the fly-overs and Jersey barricades.
If your buddy wants D.C. to be a happening, a la Orlando or Las Vegas, well, he'd better not come. But if he wants to feel a great world capital clanking out ideas and decision that matter.....


Starting 8?: Uh, Bob, 9 guys start. I'm hoping this was just a really good crack at the pathetic team in Baltimore. By the way, Nova baseball, at least the Orioles play in a city, not in some strip mall overlooking one.

Bob Levey: Eight guys play every day. The ninth pitches every fifth day. To refer to "the starting 8" is standard among seamheads. You need a cliche-fortifying session, my friend!


Herndon, Va.: Mr. L: As a double-major, history and anthropology, grad from back in the 60s, I've never regretted it. No, I'm not in either field, but I was part of a broad-based education which stood me well in the Army, private business, and now as one of those damn government bureaucrats. Taking technical courses if you don't enjoy them is crazy! I will be the first to admit, of course, the odds are better right now for a computer science major to get that first job, rather than, say, someone who majored in the classics, but we're talking about the long haul here.

Bob Levey: Exactly! As I always tell high school kids who are considering the University of Chicago, a U of C degree might not get you the world's greatest first job--but it will get you the world's greatest third job.


Rockville, Md. -- Again.: You're killin' me Bob! I lob you an easy softball question on your favorite baseball moment, and you strike me in the heart with your anti-Oriole comments. I bleed Black and Orange and am a huge Birds fan. If you take out the revolting month of September, the Orioles were a .500 team last year. Instead of being all negative, look towards the future with Mike Flanagan and Beattie (forgot his first name) in charge and prepared to fix the Orioles so they can become a great team again. Just felt I had to defend my boys.

Bob Levey: Defense noted. So, too, is the on-base percentage of the leadoff hitter (lowest in the bigs), the complete absence of a clean-up hitter, the complete absence of a stolen base threat, and the complete absence of any pitcher other than Lopez who can throw strikes.
Sorry to be the cold-water artist. But I'm Dr. Realism.


Washington, D.C.: In regard to majors, I always look for well-rounded candidates with liberal arts degrees when reviewing resumes. A great combination is a liberal arts major with basic business classes (accounting, finance, econ) thrown in as electives. Learning how to think is much more important!

Bob Levey: Loudly......
HOORAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!


Somewhere, USA: Hiya Bob,

Got a question that's completely off-topic. Recently got our credit card statement and noticed that a charge for a well-known chain restaurant was a little off. Specifically, it was 5 cents over the total (we still had our receipt, so we're absolutely sure). Hey, anyone can make mistakes, right? Too bad it happened last time we ate there also. Both times it was only a matter of a few cents, but I wonder if they're doing it to lots of people and boosting profits that way. Plus, despite the tiny cost, I feel taken advantage of. Besides never eating there again. how do we handle something like that? Call the credit card company? Call the restaurant? I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but we've only eaten there twice and it's happened both times.

Bob Levey: Call the restaurant and ask the boss to make an adjustment. If you lie down for the "little sins," they become big sins.

PS: Please e-mail me at leveyb@washpost.com with specifics about where and when this happened, so I can pursue. My nose smells a col-yume....


New York, N.Y.: I majored in two "useless" studies -- Music and English. Both have informed my career -- as an actress, singer and director --immeasurably -- the humanities are a continuum of the human experience and all of that is helpful to an actor. I LOVE what I do, I loved my majors, and I would've been miserable majoring in something "useful." (And at some point in the not-so-near future, I would like to get my Ph.D. in Medieval Studies.)

The key is to do what you love. Everything falls in place after that.

Bob Levey: This is so completely, perfectly, terrifically right.....
Thanks so much, NYC


Alexandria, Va.: So who should get the Expos franchise? D.C. or Virginia?

Bob Levey: D.C. should.
I suspect Virginia will, because the Rosslyn site will let the owners stay farther away from Angelos, yet not locate in the wilds of Dullesland.


Sacramento, Calif.: You know, Bob, UC Davis has a very good soccer team. And it's in California, land of milk and honey and so on.

Bob Levey: Hey, here's the remedy for the ailing airline industry!
World's Greatest Son goes to UC-Davis and plays soccer there. Bob spends approximately three million a year commuting by plane to watch him play. Presto, American and United are back in the black!


Bethesda, Md.: RE: 'SUCK'
I, too, did a double-take when I saw that ad... caught me for a loop! It is in bad taste, but I had to laugh.

Bob Levey: I groaned. I never laughed.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Happy to see that someone is brave enough to admit to conversation with their cat in public! (Although in my house, it tends to be more parental -- 'What are you doing, you know you're not supposed to do that' or 'Leave your brother/sister alone!' Tails and facial expressions contribute the dialog on the furry end!)

They are great listeners after dinner!

Bob Levey: Charlotte and I have a relationship that is really quite advanced (no, I'm not smoking something). All I have to do is look at her, reproachfully, and she will slink away. Of course, she remembers that I'm the humanoid in the house with the deep voice, and the scary, clump-y walk. So maybe, as the man said, anatomy is destiny.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Bob, why aren't you checking out any of our country's fine public institutions? Many of them offer educations that equal, if not surpass, the private schools, and, since you talk often about being not rich, they also cost exponentially less.

Bob Levey: As I said, they're on the list of "nexts."


History Major and Proud!: Bob,

I studied history in school and would spend the rest of my life with my nose in my history books if I could. I had friends in college who said to me, "Oh I wanted to be a history major but my parents wouldn't let me." It made me feel like a total doofus at the time, but I'm now 26 years old and doing exactly what I always wanted to do, I'm lobbying for something I believe in. My friends who were stuck in business majors are all complaining about their jobs now because they don't believe in what they do. And as for the pay curve, I admit out of the gates my business major friends did make more than me but after a few years it all evens out. As my father said, "Do what you love, the money will follow."

Bob Levey: Indeed, money often will follow (although not always). But you know what, kids? Money isn't everything. ENOUGH money is what you hope for, and most of us reach that. Nourishing the soul is far more important than counting beans in your brokerage account.
As the husband of a historian, I especially second your motion. I can't tell you how many times people say to Jane, "It's great to see a historian who's actually working in/making a living at history." But the real story in her case is that she loves what she does.


Washington, D.C.: The head of my consulting firm says he'd hire an English major over an MBA any day (given the right amount of experience, etc). He prefers the approach liberal arts grads have over the more narrow business approach.

Bob Levey: Another voice of sense and sanity. Please tell the head of your consulting firm that he/she is RIGHTTTTTTTTT!


Washington, D.C.: Hi Bob, I work for a very small non-profit (I am the only staff person). My boss, the president (volunteer position), has paid me late since they took office in Nov. The first time it was two days, since then it has been only one day. I know this does not seem like a big deal but I don't get paid a lot and I only get paid once per month so a day makes a difference when you are on a very tight budget.

Every month I remind her and every month, I get paid late. If I complain to the BOD, it could ruin my relationship with my boss. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

Thanks and I always enjoy the chat.

Bob Levey: Is there someone in accounting who can fix this? That'd be my first attempt at an end run...


Washington, D.C.: Bob,

I am very disturbed by what you wrote about Williams College using "real professors" as teachers. Graduate students, when used, often teach the breakout sessions of classes, and I think that this benefits the professors, grad students and students in the class. Oftentimes, grad students are more passionate or more versed in the subject material they are teaching, as they are living and breathing the stuff round the clock. And students who may be timid often feel more freely to discuss issues with grad students.

I see absolutely no harm in either teaching style, but I feel that it is below your views on education to dismiss so easily the excellent teachers that are out there in the form of grad students.

Bob Levey: Some grad students are excellent, no question. But many are just getting their tickets punched so they can be competitive in the great job derby that begins once a PhD is in hand. A great school is always measured by (and measurable by) the number of real, flag-rank faculty who teach undergrads.


A Former Massachusetts Girl: Dear Bob:
When you were in Williamstown, home of Williams College, I hope you took some time to visit the Sterling and Clark Art Institute, definitely one of my favorite museums.

Bob Levey: No time, alas. Next trip.


Stupid Question: How do you have time to read some of these really long posts and respond so quickly?

Bob Levey: When you inhale four cups of coffee a day, ANTYHING is possible.
Seriously, I read fast and I type fast. Words to live by....


Bob Levey: The New Jersey Turnpike beckons, sports fans. Thanks for joining us today.


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