Archive for July, 2011

July 23rd 2011
Pick a little, talk a little. . .

Posted under American history & art & fluff & Gender & local news & the body & women's history

The kerfuffle in the feminist internets that I wrote about yesterday somehow recalls this scene for me. “She advocates dirty books: CHAW-ser. RABBaLAYS. BALL-zac!” Knitting Clio, a historian of medicine who has written about adolescent medicine in particular, has more to say about this–check her out.

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July 22nd 2011
Why the internet & Twitter suck

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & Gender & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Writing about parenting decisions on the internet is hazardous if you are a mother.  It doesn’t matter that the mistake in question wasn’t yours, and that instead it was a nurse’s fault that your child received the wrong vaccine.  If you are a mother, you will only be attacked as a neglectful mother/helicopter parent/narcissist/etc.  (Don’t believe me?  Just skim some of the first comments, if you dare.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around her being called both neglectful AND a helicopter parentAwesome!)

If you as a mother simultaneously transfused blood into your child WHILE lifting a burning car off of her body, you’ll still be told U R doin’ it RONG.  You’re a helicopter (or Jaws of Life) parent!  Parents do too much for their kids these days!  What a narcissist–why would you write about a private trauma like that?  It was dangerously irresponsible for you not to call 911 and let the paramedics handle that!  Take take take–that’s all they’ll ever learn if you do everything for them!!!!11!!!1!1!

It’s difficult for me to imagine that a father who wrote a similar essay would be subject to such patronizing, dismissive, and nasty lectures from anonymous (and not-so-anonymous) commenters and tweeters.  In fact, in the world I inhabit, I think it’s quite plausible that he’d be offered warm, gooey cookies for an essay like that, even (or especially?) from feminist writers.  Continue Reading »


July 21st 2011
Simon Says, Goody Two-Shoes edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & European history & Gender & jobs & publication & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Ah, the 1980s:  when fashionable men dared to wear eye shadow.

This video seems newly timely given the massive wiretapping scandal blowing up News Corporation.  Now that Rupert Murdoch and his empire look pretty weak, the long knives are out for him.  Roger Simon reports that nearly 30 years ago–perhaps to the soundtrack of an Adam Ant video–Murdoch said something racist at a dinner with Chicago Sun-Times reporters after he bought their newspaper:

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July 20th 2011

Posted under bad language & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers

She took it-online!

WARNING:  Rant dead ahead.  Proceed a vos risques.

Didja hear?  Online courses have higher dropout and failure rates.  From yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed:

[A] new study urges caution to those who believe that online education is a panacea for educating more community college students. The study finds that students who enrolled in online courses — controlling for various factors that tend to predict success — were more likely to fail or drop out of the courses than were those who took the same courses in person. Notably, there was not a gap in completion between those enrolled in hybrid and in-person courses.

Further, the students who took online courses early in their community college careers were slightly but statistically significantly less likely than were other students to come back for subsequent terms. And students who took higher shares of coursework online than did their peers were slightly but statistically significantly less likely either to finish a degree or certificate or to transfer to a four-year institution.

The study was by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College of Columbia University. Their analysis is based on a large cohort — the 51,000 students who entered community and technical colleges in Washington State in 2004. And the study is similar to one on students in Virginia, adding to the researchers’ belief that the trends are real and potentially troublesome in that increasing numbers of community college students are enrolling online.

I’ll wager that if someone repeats this study at four-year colleges ze’ll get pretty much the same results.  It seems so obvious to anyone who has ever taught a class–and I’m sure to pretty much anyone who has some functional memory of their college years.  The mission of community colleges is to serve students who may not have had the background in high school to leap into a 4-year degree program.  Many universities market online courses as easy–and fun!–to do while working full time and/or raising children.  (I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on your local buses, subways, and in airports, as well as on the teevee.)  So, less prepared students + marketing the idea of post-secondary study as fun and easy to do in your spare time = tuition scam-a-lama-ding-dong.  Awesome!  It’s so unethical it makes me grind my teeth until my molars ache. Continue Reading »


July 19th 2011
From the mailbag: NEH Enduring Questions grants

Posted under fluff

This came via e-mail yesterday:

The NEH Enduring Questions grant program supports the development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This course will encourage undergraduates and teachers to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day.

Deadline(s):      09/15/2011

E-mail:           enduringquestions AT neh DOT gov

More information here on the web site, which also includes some samples of successful “enduring questions:”

  • What is good government?
  • What is the value of work?
  • What is friendship?
  • What is evil?
  • Are there universals in human nature?
  • What are the origins of the universe?

This got me thinking about other Enduring Questions that span the ages of humankind: Continue Reading »


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