David Alm

What’s a PhD to do?

by David Alm January 30, 2015
PhD degree

This infographic comes courtesy of Kyara Tobias, a Contrary reader who helped create it.






Read the full article →

From blindness to beauty, Layla Love’s photographic journey

by David Alm November 29, 2014
0_550_393-1

In 2008, the photographer Layla Love was told she’d be blind within one year. The cause: pharmaceutical medications she’d been taking since she was a child to combat the deleterious effects of Dystonia, a rare neurological disease whose symptoms are nearly identical to Parkinson’s disease. Love was devastated. Since she first picked up a camera […]






Read the full article →

A simple proposal for making New York affordable again

by David Alm October 24, 2014
1912232_10152499280104372_4169154243071585839_n

Last spring, my girlfriend of six years and I split up. She moved out of our below-market two-bedroom apartment in Park Slope and I had to decide if I was going to keep it, which would require getting a roommate – not an appealing prospect at age 38 – or find my own place. So […]






Read the full article →

English majors fare just fine on the job market, but in what jobs?

by David Alm October 14, 2014
testchart2-thumb-570x432-125196

A few days ago, a friend of mine with a tenure-track English professorship at a large southern university posted an article on Facebook that argued, basically, that humanities majors fare no worse in the job market than other majors. The data came from a study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, and covered […]






Read the full article →

How a new Autocorrect program could hijack your soul

by David Alm September 10, 2014
image

Dennis Paoli, the coordinator of the Reading & Writing Center at Hunter College in New York City, has a short but very effective definition of writing: Writing is thinking and vice versa. In other words, to write clearly you also need to think clearly, and clear thinking is often achieved through writing. I’ve participated in numerous workshops over the […]






Read the full article →

Those pesky “whining adjuncts”

by David Alm August 27, 2014

Two days ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a letter to the editor by one Catherine Stukel, who teaches at a community college in Cicero, Illinois. The point of Stukel’s letter was simple: She thinks that adjuncts whine too much about low wages, insecure employment, and not being able to find full-time jobs. In her […]






Read the full article →

Is the university over?

by David Alm August 16, 2014
brady-bunch.jpg-6868

Minerva — hardly a word you’d associate with higher education. It sounds more like a brand-name medication designed to treat anxiety — Minimize your nerves with Minerva! Or maybe a South American root that generations of indigenous populations have used to cure everything. But no. If a 39-year-old entrepreneur named Ben Nelson has his way, the word Minerva will not only […]






Read the full article →

Writing and running hurt, and that’s good

by David Alm June 26, 2014
1173643_10151615791834372_911569033_n-1

There are two things most people I know hate to do: Writing and running. While very different activities — one cerebral, the other physical — the primary reason people hate them is the same: They’re hard. And not just hard, but very hard. And they hurt. Also, they’re boring. Wait. What? I get that they’re hard, but how can something that […]






Read the full article →

Judy Blume helped me, too

by David Alm June 18, 2014
JudyBlume2009(cropped)

A confession: As a child, while all of my friends were obsessed with the fantasy novels of Piers Anthony and science fiction, I was devouring whatever I could find by Judy Blume. I was an otherwise boyish kid — I rode bikes, played in the dirt, collected comic books. But even then, I preferred realism over fantasy, and […]






Read the full article →

How Gary Coleman taught me to read

by David Alm April 11, 2014
gary

There’s an episode in the final season of Diff’rent Strokes in which Arnold (Gary Coleman) acts up in class and is challenged by his teacher, played by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, to teach a lesson one day. His topic is to be A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and he doesn’t want to do it. But he forces […]






Read the full article →

Confessions of a standardized test writer

by David Alm March 7, 2014
exam_hall

In the fall of 2011, I was invited to prepare an essay for the American College Testing exam, better known as the ACT. If you live on the East or West Coasts, you’ve probably never heard of it; if you live in the Midwest or the South, it hangs over your future like a guillotine […]






Read the full article →

Sports! Or, training in irrational jingoism?

by David Alm February 3, 2014
logo-nfl-draft-2013-hd-bunny

If you watched the Super Bowl last night, you no doubt watched the commercials too. So far, Bob Dylan’s endorsement of Chrysler has gotten the most attention for his weird, tautological question “Is there anything more American than America?” But that wasn’t the only ad with an overwhelmingly pro-America message during last night’s game. There […]






Read the full article →

The listicle as literature (?)

by David Alm January 21, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 8.51.12 AM

I am to the listicle what my parents were to the Beastie Boys. When I was 11 years old, in 1986, I thought the Beasties were the greatest musicians of all time, and yes, I was including Beethoven, the Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel in that valuation. My parents, meanwhile, laughed and rolled their eyes, […]






Read the full article →

Never sell your right to speak out

by David Alm January 6, 2014
583px-Kingsford_School,_feature

Last week, the New York Times published an article on its website by Will Blythe, the former editor at large at Byliner, in which the author recounts how he was fired from that job and asked to sign a non-disparagement agreement in exchange for two weeks’ pay. He refused. I was once in the exact same position. Except […]






Read the full article →

Tough love: Johns Hopkins proposes a bold new plan

by David Alm December 20, 2013
800px-Homewood_Museum,_Johns_Hopkins_University,_Baltimore,_MD

Tom Waits once said, “It’s not that the world is over-populated; it’s just that everyone wants to live in the same places.” He wasn’t wrong, but his logic was specious. There’s a reason that millions of people crowd into Mumbai, New York, and Beijing: opportunity, or the lack of opportunity in the places they left. […]






Read the full article →