Archive for February, 2010
An anonymous correspondent wrote in last week:
I had an experience the other day which I’m still puzzling over. I serve on a major university committee, and I have known for some time that a colleague’s daughter is not at home, but in residential care in Big City more than a hundred miles away, and has been in and out of hospital. The other day I asked how her daughter was doing, and she started talking. It turns out her daughter’s problems (and a suicide attempt) are related to two rapes in school, which the young woman didn’t tell anyone about until recently. Suddenly my colleague stopped, and said “I’ve just told you more than I’ve told anyone else, and more than I should have.” It turns out they have been told that because of their daughter’s privacy rights they can’t talk about what is happening to her, so that (for instance) if I meet my colleague’s daughter some time down the road, I don’t look at her and say, “Oh, you’re the girl who was raped”. From other things my colleague said, it sounds as if her town HS has a culture of athletic impunity – ie. The athletes can do whatever they want.
This exchange has troubled me as a feminist on multiple levels: Continue Reading »
Posted under jobs
Female Science Professor had an interesting post earlier this week about a side-effect of tenure that bugs a lot of people: many faculty who were tenured and promoted under one set of standards are now responsible for applying a more demanding set of standards to today’s tenure and promotion candidates. (I freely confess that I’m one of them–I went up for tenure under the existing standards in my college, and a few years later, those standards were significantly revised and elevated.)
A not-uncommon complaint of tenure-track faculty, particularly during the tenure decision year, is that some of those who are deciding their Fate would not get tenure under today’s rather rigorous system of evaluation. How can the process be fair if people unqualified for tenure today participate in decisions about the tenure of others?
It’s a complicated question because, although the tenure bar has definitely been raised with time, you can’t know whether someone who had too-low-for-tenure-today productivity way back when would rise to the challenge of today’s standards or not.
FSP decides that ultimately this isn’t such a big problem, and I agree. There are jerks everywhere, and having an awesome record of publications and grants is no guarantee of sanity or reason in tenure votes. Continue Reading »
No kidding! See Larissa McFarquar’s portrait of Krugman in The New Yorker:
Krugman went to Yale, in 1970, intending to study history, but he felt that history was too much about what and not enough about why, so he ended up in economics. Economics, he found, examined the same infinitely complicated social reality that history did but, instead of elucidating its complexity, looked for patterns and rules that made the complexity seem simple. Why did some societies have serfs or slaves and others not? You could talk about culture and national character and climate and changing mores and heroes and revolts and the history of agriculture and the Romans and the Christians and the Middle Ages and all the rest of it; or, like Krugman’s economics teacher Evsey Domar, you could argue that if peasants are barely surviving there’s no point in enslaving them, because they have nothing to give you, but if good new land becomes available it makes sense to enslave them, because you can skim off the difference between their output and what it takes to keep them alive. Suddenly, a simple story made sense of a huge and baffling swath of reality, and Krugman found that enormously satisfying.
Awesome!!! It’s all so simple! Never mind why only certain people were enslaved, and others weren’t; never mind how slavery made ideological sense as well as economic sense to the architects of slavery; never mind what the lives and deaths of the enslaved were like; never mind how masters maintained their dominance even in the face of a massive enslaved majority of people. It’s all just so much simpler when you look at it as an economist! You know that old joke about economists: “Sure it works in reality, but will it work in theory?”
The paragraph above, about mid-way through the article, helps explain Krugman’s description of his political quiescence through the 1980s and 1990s: Continue Reading »
You know how there are no jobs in history this year? Well, unfortunately for me, my friends who are Associate Professors are finding jobs and leaving Colorado! I’m happy for them and all of the new challenges and opportunities that they’ll face in their new jobs and new lives, but really: where is their consideration? Clearly, they haven’t been thinking about me at all! Seriously: I’m looking at three friends moving out of state this summer, and a fourth friend who teaches here is shopping for apartments three states away! (This is why I’m posting a photo of the sad monkey today. The sad monkey is me!)
I’ve written here before about how the academic life’s peripatetic nature means always leaving friends behind. Well, I’m now officially the friend who is being left behind! I guess that’s a lesson to remember: things change even when you stay in place. I love having so many readers and commenters here–but it’s not like I can have a cup of coffee with you whenever I want to and get your advice about my research, or you could ask for my help with yours, or like I could walk your dogs for you, or stay up late with you over a bottle of wine.
There is a point to this post, aside from indulging my self-pity: Continue Reading »