COLUMN: … And an enlightened New Year

Don Norvell

The one thing I never understood about the undergrad curriculum is LERs. Kent State and most other universities require students to take freshman level classes from predetermined categories, and I never understood why.

Indeed, LERs irritated me to put it mildly. During my junior year, I calculated more than 30 ways I could have completed a double or triple major in four years – no summer classes – if those damn LERs didn’t get in my way.

These were not arbitrary combinations. I truly am fascinated by history, political science, economics, classical studies, etc. LERs barely scratch the surface of these fields. If I had the opportunity to earn accreditation in some of them, I would have been more fulfilled with this B.S.

Despite the wonder of public education, it remains each individual’s personal responsibility to learn as much as possible. Going to class every day is simply not enough.

Because it is that time of year when our parents are nagging us for holiday wish lists, I dedicate this column to my readers’ intellectual growth by recommending some of my favorite books.

ƒ-S “Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

They say that history is written by the winners. However, the losers still manage to leave some nasty scars behind. While conventional textbooks like to ignore scars, Woods illuminates some of our history’s lost lessons.

ƒ-S “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

A few of my friends have said that they would love physics without the math, hence the popularity of Seven Ideas. Hawking provides this quintessential work of making modern physics accessible to the masses. Besides, I would be a lousy physicist if I didn’t recommend this book.

ƒ-S “Constitutional Chaos” by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

This book made me hate the government even more than I already did. Napolitano details how all levels of government disdain the average person. He discusses abuses through the PATRIOT Act, eminent domain, gagging free speech and all other ways the Bill of Rights has been disemboweled sometimes with the aid of activist judges.

ƒ-S “The Federalist Papers” by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay

These 85 essays have been published in a number of volumes by various editors. Regardless of which one you chose, these papers are absolutely critical to understanding the Constitution.

ƒ-S “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell

I thought I had learned something when I took Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. It turns out that I didn’t learn that much. Without any math or graphs, Sowell uses historical examples from all over the world to make the complexities of the economy accessible to even the drunkest frat boy.

ƒ-S “Dictionary of Theories” by Jennifer Bothamley

With an army of contributors and editors, Bothamley compiled this most excellent reference for anyone in any field. While it was designed as a research aid, some entries make great recreational reading especially the defunct theories.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].