Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the moral dilemma of collecting unemployment

I received my new three-year appointment, and signed and brought it to campus today. (I had requested a bump up to Range C, since I've been in the same salary range for 14 years. As soon as I received an evaluation letter saying they would try to make this happen, I knew it wouldn't. But that's another story.)

In between contracts, for the first time, I collected unemployment, to which I was entitled under California law. I expected to feel funny about that, because I can make ends meet, and there are plenty of people who can't. On the other hand, there's a reason to collect beyond my own condition. Lecturers in the CSU apply for unemployment partly as a political move to raise the cost to the administration of keeping lecturers in precarious employment status -- since the law stipulates we're eligible because we're in temporary employment that ends without any reasonable assurance of future work. My collecting unemployment supposedly has some effect on incrementally pushing for better working conditions for all lecturers.

But that wasn't my moral dilemma at all, as it turned out. It was Optima.

Optima is one of Hermann Zapf's two masterpieces -- the other being Palatino -- and, if not my favorite fonts, certainly one of the five. It's also the font of choice for the California unemployment agency, printed in that displeasing blue government bureaucracies always manage to put on everything, and that somehow always looks faded. All the pamphlets explaining how to be unemployed, how to try to stop being unemployed, and what to do to avoid losing unemployment benefits were covered in it. It's on their envelopes. It's on their logos. In that context, this perfectly weighted, ambiguously quasi-serifed work of art looks like -- well, like something sent to you from the unemployment office.

There's not a lot I can do. I had to change my fonts on this blog. I'm going to have to remove it from the course syllabi for which it is the basis of the style sheet.

So, now what? I already use Palatino for Bioethics. Professional Ethics uses Futura for headings and Goudy Old Style for text -- a devilish combination that works despite itself, and for which I take justifiable pride. The course is already laboring under the unwieldy title "Human Interests and the Power of Information." What am I supposed to do -- Avant Garde Gothic headings? That way lay madness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zaps Dingbats!