Illinois politicians have a few days before beginning a second year without a state budget, which means that its public universities are in the same, or worse, situation. While these politicians seem aware of and committed to these universities, they have effectively reduced their state appropriation by seventy percent last year, which has had a negative impact upon these universities. Prospective students and their parents were less likely to consider Illinois public universities, for example, and my university reportedly lost 20 faculty while I lost more than $2,500 of my salary. Such collateral damage will remain long after the budget battles between the Governor and the Legislature are won and lost.
This new book by Janna Levin (2016), who also wrote the brilliant A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2007), is a wonderful and even mystifying account of the science of black holes, which seem to defy human experience. It’s also intriguing for its account of the development of a discipline, including the human components of this history of ideas. It’s additionally useful, I realized after I finished it, because it offers a metaphor of the teenage mind, something hypothesized as a result of its effects but unable to be documented directly, something that is massively destructive and threatens our survival.