Archive for October, 2010

October 28th 2010
Roundin’ ‘em up and ridin’ on out

Posted under fluff & happy endings

Arches?  Arches?  I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ arches.”  We’re having a krazy desert kamping weekend in Arches National Park anyway.  In October!  What can I say–Fratguy is a New Englander, so the less comfortable he is, the more fun he’s having.  (Plus, he does all the work and delivers my steaming mug of coffee in the morning while I snooze in my 20-degree bag.)  I’m a little abashed that I’ve lived in Colorado for nearly a decade and I’m just now getting around to this trip.

Blogging will resume when we cross back over the state line.  Talk amongst yourselves.  And be nice!

12 Comments »

October 27th 2010
So you want to get a Ph.D. in the humanities?

Posted under American history & class & Gender & jobs & students & unhappy endings

Do as I say, not as I did!

Watch this first!  (Two different readers sent this to me, so I figured I should let the rest of you in on it.)  And then, if we really can’t talk you out of getting a Ph.D., read this and this.  Best of luck to ya.

Meanwhile, Tenured Radical has responded to yesterday’s post with a post of her own, if you’re interested, and Dr. Crazy has some further thoughts too.  (All of you prospective grad students should be sure to read these beauties, fer sure!)

22 Comments »

October 26th 2010
Sister, can you spare a dime?

Posted under American history & jobs & unhappy endings

Tenured Radical sure has changed her tune since last she wrote about faculty salaries at her college.  Here’s TR back in December of 2008, defending her uni’s plan to freeze faculty salaries as a strategy for surviving the Great Recession:

Isn’t letting the administration get away with a salary freeze just lying down and letting them walk all over us? No, keeping your trap shut, repressing your anger at how you are treated, not disagreeing with anyone who might ever vote on your promotion, and never saying or writing anything you believe until you have a tenure letter in your pocket is letting people walk all over you. Agreeing to a salary freeze, when it is explained as part of a well-reasoned plan is sticking out your hand and playing your role as a partner in the enterprise.

Go re-read the whole thing–it’s difficult to excerpt, but the bottom line is that she thought that faculty, who are relatively well paid and enjoy incomparable job security after tenure, should stop whining and lend a hand.  Well, it’s now nearly two years later, and here’s where she is:

At age 52, I make slightly more than 107K, 16K less than the median salary at my rank at Zenith and, adjusted for inflation and health insurance, less than I made three years ago.  The actual number of my salary tells you little, since I am quite sure that salaries vary wildly at Zenith and that I make more than some people who have worked there for longer (colleagues are invited to contribute their own salaries, anonymously if they wish, in the comments section.)  What I also know is that we don’t get meaningful raises any more, and that it seems unlikely that the wage gap will be closed except through the retirement and departure of better paid colleagues.  Two years ago, Zenith finally locked on to what the public and state schools have known for a long time:  pay your faculty less, and there isn’t a damned thing they can do about it.  Year before last, we received no raises; last year I was pretty much at the top of the chart at slightly less than 2%; and this year’s overall pool will only be increased by 2%.   Continue Reading »

42 Comments »

October 25th 2010
Teaching while non-white and female

Posted under Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & students & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Inside Higher Ed’s new-ish blog, University of Venus, last week featured this post by an anonymous female faculty member of color:

I was teaching one of my mid-level courses last semester. The first assignment for the class was a reflection paper on students’ socialization experiences within their own families. Usually students write about unsurprising things: the toys they played with, the clothes they wore, the sports and extra-curricular activities they took part in, etc. But last semester, one of my male students turned in a paper which read like a trashy memoir of sexual exploits. The inappropriateness of the paper’s content was matched only by the crudeness of its language. When I confronted him, he refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing and insisted instead on questioning his grade on that paper for the rest of the semester, over the summer, and now in the fall. He spent most of the rest of our class meetings last semester with his arms crossed and eyes locked on me. Sometimes he would stay back in his seat, still with his arms crossed, eyes still fixed on me, while the classroom emptied and I packed up my things. The fact that he is a lacrosse player is a significant detail. On my campus (and apparently some others too according to urbandictionary.com) they are known as “lax bros”- and they engage in behavior that epitomizes college life for at least some male athletes – partying hard, drinking, and acting aggressively.

Right after my confrontation with this student about his first paper, I shot my usual line to my husband, who is also an academic: “this would never happen to you!” Continue Reading »

89 Comments »

October 24th 2010
Poor Ken: only girls will play with him!

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & Gender & happy endings & wankers & women's history

Twisty Faster has an absolutely spot-on analysis of the problem with boys making movies for boys–a.k.a. modern Hollywood and the crapola movies it makes (h/t to commenter MsMcD.)  It’s hard for me to excerpt without giving away her punchline, but it involves her listening to a recent interview with (in her words) “two Hollywood dudes who had something to do with making ‘Toy Story 3.’  The Hollywood dudes start[ed] talking about ‘getting to the emotional truth of the characters.’ I have, with my usual painstaking attention to detail, transcribed the portion of the interview in which they reveal how they went about getting to the “emotional truth” of a Ken doll character:”

Hollywood Dude #1: I don’t know if you had any Ken dolls when you were growing up; I certainly didn’t. But my friends’ little sisters did and we made endless fun of Ken. Ken’s just a-a-a whipping boy [...] We thought, well what does it feel like to be a guy who’s a girl’s toy? You’re a guy, but you’re only played with by little girls. And then further, he’s just an accessory to Barbie. You know he doesn’t carry equal weight to, with Barbie, he’s really no more important than a pair of shoes or a belt or a purse to her, and we knew that he would have to have a complex.

A-HAHAhahaha!!!  Now that’s a “world upside down” moment:  men as accessories to women, or even as toys for them!  Little girls as the Untouchables of the playground!  Yet another movie that’s all about exploring men’s subjectivity and men’s emotions!!!  Well, you know what Twisty will do with that, but to quote the brilliant entirety of her post would be plagiarism, and this is a respectable ranch so we can’t do that here.  Please, for the love of Dog, click here and read. Continue Reading »

15 Comments »

October 23rd 2010
Dispatches from the supply side of teacher ed.

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & local news & students & unhappy endings

It’s advising season–two weeks of spending my non-classroom time dispensing my hard-won wisdom, such as it is, and lighting fires under the butts of students to make sure that they’re meeting their degree requirements, keeping their grades up, and making sure that they have a plan to get them through Baa Ram U. and off to new adventures with an undergraduate degree in History.  Officially, faculty endure advising weeks as a chore, but since the students who bother to make appointments and come see us are the ones pretty much on top of the game, it’s not that much work and in fact it’s kind of fun checking in with our advisees. 

I advise students who are just majoring in History, and those who are majoring in History and at the same time pursuing teacher licensure in social studies (what we call our History-SST track, short for Social Studies teaching).  That track is very demanding–aside from having at least a 3.0 grade point average, students need to take 24 credits of history and 24 credits of social science courses (economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, etc.) as well as all of the teacher training courses in the School of Education.  In the past year, a number–not all to be sure–but a noticable number of the best History-SST majors have sat down in my office and told me that they don’t like the direction of public secondary education, with all of the testing and the beating up on teachers in our public discourse.  Some of them hang it up and switch out of the SST track, while others just express concerns about ever being able to teach history in grades 7-12 with any degree of creativity or control over their course content.  Interestingly, most of the conversations I can recall along these lines in the past year or so have been with male students.     Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

October 22nd 2010
Clarence Thomas’s ex-girlfriend tells all

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & race & unhappy endings & women's history

Or, at least Lillian McEwan tells us some of what some of us were looking for back in 1991.  (H/t to reader and commenter cgeye for the link.)

To McEwen, Hill’s allegations that [Clarence] Thomas had pressed her for dates and made lurid sexual references rang familiar.

“He was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners,” McEwen said matter-of-factly. “It was a hobby of his.”  McEwen’s connection to Thomas was strictly personal. She had even disclosed that relationship to [then-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Joe] Biden, who had been her boss years earlier.

In her Senate testimony, Hill, who worked with Thomas at two federal agencies, said that Thomas would make sexual comments to her at work, including references to scenes in hard-core pornographic films.

“If I used that kind of grotesque language with one person, it would seem to me that there would be traces of it throughout the employees who worked closely with me, or the other individuals who heard bits and pieces of it or various levels of it,” Thomas responded to the committee.

I can understand why she was reluctant to come forward with her information about Thomas.  After all, they had a consensual personal and sexual relationship.  His interest in pornography and in sexually evaluating the women he worked with was apparently fine with (if not welcomed by) McEwen.  I can certainly understand her reluctance to volunteer to be the African American woman to bring down only the second African American ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court because she thought his interest in porn was “boring.”  Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

October 21st 2010
A suggestion: People who pose as Constitutional literalists should know what’s in it

Posted under American history & bad language & wankers

Apparently, the switchboards and servers at NPR have crashed because of the vitriol directed at them by the ignorant who are exercised about the firing of Juan Williams. Although the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, it does not guarantee employment after the free exercise thereof.  I’m so tired of right-wingers who don’t get the distinction.  As they were so fond of reminding us during the invasion of Iraq, “freedom isn’t free!”

Dumba$$es.  Here is the full text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Please note that there is no guarantee of employment in this amendment, at NPR or anywhere else. 

This reminds me of a letter to the editor of the Dayton Daily News from the previous decade, in which a reader complained about how liberals thought it was A-OK to burn the U.S. flag but were all upset over a local incident in which someone had stolen and torched a neighbor’s rainbow (gay rights) flag.  Continue Reading »

43 Comments »

October 20th 2010
An “olive branch” or a stick to beat her with?

Posted under American history & Gender & Intersectionality & race & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Did anyone else wake up to this news about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Virginia Thomas’s shockingly pushy voicemail to Antia Hill and think WTF???

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

.        .      .      .        .      .     .        .      .     

In a statement conveyed through a publicist, Ms. Thomas confirmed leaving the message, which she portrayed as a peacemaking gesture. She did not explain its timing.

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get past what happened so long ago,” she said. “That offer still stands. I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

In response to Ms. Thomas’s statement, Ms. Hill said that she had testified truthfully about her experiences with the future Justice Thomas and that she had nothing to apologize for.

What’s next:  Laura Bush asking for an apology from the people of New Orleans for suffering from Hurricane Katrina in 2005?  Continue Reading »

39 Comments »

October 19th 2010
Now do you believe me?

Posted under technoskepticism & unhappy endings

I hate–I mean–I love to say “I told you so!”  Online privacy and discretion:  it’s not just for the teenagers and young adults whom we love to lecture about this.  And you don’t even have to be in confessional mode to give up a lot of intel to teh fB, as it turns out!

Yes, I know:  I have a blog, so what the heck am I doing standing up for privacy and discretion on the world wide non-peer reviewed intertubes?  Well, those of you who know me in real life understand that this blog represents only a highly selective part of my personal life, and is mostly about my professional identity.  Those of you who don’t know me in RL–well, let’s just say you’re not missing much, but you’re missing enough for me not to wonder if I’ve overshared here. Continue Reading »

16 Comments »

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