Archive for 2011

October 31st 2011
Hey, Wha’Happen?

Posted under fluff & jobs & local news

Posting should resume later this week.  There’s just been too much excitement around here–two weekends out of town which were interrupted last week by an October snowstorm which eventually led to a crabapple tree trunk pinning down a power line in the driveway!  We never lost power, but most unfortunately, I had a Snow Day last Wednesday with no internets!  Here’s hoping you northeasterners are digging out of your freak storm by now.  As for me–it’s time for me to get back to my day job–the remunerative one. 

In the meantime, tell me Wha’Happen? with the rest of you!

8 Comments »

October 23rd 2011
Who ever would have predicted this?

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism

Exhibit A from the I Told You So files this week (h/t commenter Indyanna, who tipped me off via e-mail today), “At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait:”

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix. Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

October 21st 2011
Was I really too harsh on Steve Jobs?

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & jobs & technoskepticism

After Steve Jobs’s death a few weeks ago, I noted that the encomia for his life’s work seemed strange to me because he was a celebrity CEO who outsourced jobs to China, which doesn’t strike me as a particularly patriotic or environmentally responsible business plan.  Some of you objected.  Well, friends, I’ll let you be the judge as to whether this was unnecessarily harsh.  The Huffinton Post (via RealClearPolitics) offers some choice tidbits from Walter Isaacson’s not-yet-released biography, which was written with Jobs’s cooperation.  Here’s the HuffPo’s reportage on what’s to be found in Isaacson’s tome:

Jobs, who was known for his prickly, stubborn personality, almost missed meeting President Obama in the fall of 2010 because he insisted that the president personally ask him for a meeting. Though his wife told him that Obama “was really psyched to meet with you,” Jobs insisted on the personal invitation, and the standoff lasted for five days. When he finally relented and they met at the Westin San Francisco Airport, Jobs was characteristically blunt. He seemed to have transformed from a liberal into a conservative.

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year. Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

October 19th 2011
Teevee not for tots–but online Kindergarten = awesome?

Posted under American history & childhood & unhappy endings

from Adbusters

The American Academy of Pediatrics retrenches in its losing war against putting young children in front of screens:

Parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned on Tuesday. Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.

The recommendation, announced at the group’s annual convention in Boston, is less stringent than its first such warning, in 1999, which called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2 and to fill out a “media history” for doctor’s office visits. But it also makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults.

And yet, we we hear from Jonathan Rees at More or Less Bunk that there is such a thing as online Kindergarten curricula, which he (correctly, in my view) calls “child neglect:” Continue Reading »

28 Comments »

October 17th 2011
Support the troops!

Posted under American history

(Unless they’re participating in Occupy Wall Street.) This is some pretty powerful stuff, via ChePasa at Corrente.

“Why y’all do this to our people? I been to Iraq for 14 months for my people. . . they don’t have guns! THEY DON’T HAVE GUNS!” Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

October 17th 2011
“Best nerd joke ever, no doy.”

Posted under fluff & happy endings

Enjoy, nerds!  Although I’m disappointed to hear that MY nerd joke–saying when nature calls that “I must Remember the Ladies“–didn’t get a single vote!

See you tomorrow.

3 Comments »

October 16th 2011
Sunday round-up: friends & neighbors edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & captivity & childhood & Gender & wankers & weirdness

Me & my best friend!

Howdy, friends!  It’s lovely, sunny, and warm, so I’m off on a run.  Here are some interesting tidbits I found elsewhere on the world-wide timewasting web for those of you not enjoying perfect autumn weather today:

  • Via RealClearBooks, Eleanor Barkhorn on “What Jeffrey Eugenidies Doesn’t Understand About Women,” after reading his new book, The Marriage Plot:  “There’s one way, however, in which [the protagonist] Madeleine defies believability: She has no true female friends. Yes, she has roommates and a sister with whom she once had ‘heavy’ emotional conversations, but these relationships are characterized more by spite than affection. And, sadly, The Marriage Plot is just the latest story to forget to give its heroine friends. There are countless other Madeleines in modern-day literature and film: smart, self-assured women who have all the trappings of contemporary womanhood except a group of friends to confide in.”  Have you noticed this about recent books and films?  I have to say that I hadn’t until Barkhorn pointed it out.  She concludes, “The great irony, of course, is that the old-fashioned, marriage-plot-bound books that Eugenides attempts to modernize in his new novel actually do a better job of portraying female friendship than The Marriage Plot.”  I think I may read this anyway–a library codex copy of the book, of course–because I’m a huge fan of “marriage plot” authors like Jane Austen and the many Brontes, but Barkhorn makes an interesting argument here.
  • Isn’t it cute when right-wing religious nuts start condemning each other to hell?  Robert Jeffress vs. Bill Donahue, plus all Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, of course.  Taking victimology to new heights, Anita Perry cries that her handsome husband Rick has been “brutalized . . . because of his faith.”  Mark my words:  the majority of Americans will not reward this kind of religious pride, which just stinks of hubris and un-neighborliness.  Even if they privately agree with him, Americans are fundamentally uncomfortable with the Jeffress style of public religious condemnation.
  • 1970s flashback:  Do any of you remember the sensational book Sybil, about the girl with multiple personality disorder?  Continue Reading »

11 Comments »

October 14th 2011
Dressing for a job interview? Just dress for the conference.

Posted under conferences & Gender & jobs

Lee Skallerup Bessette offers some good advice for people on the academic job market in “Dressing for Success” without blowing a lot of dough.  Her advice:  make sure that whatever you wear fits well and is in good condition, and she offers a lot of ideas and resources for building a professional wardrobe without a lot of money.  However, she focuses a lot on “suits” for some reason, when I personally don’t think I’ve worn anything that can be called a “suit” for at least 6-7 years, and most men in my field don’t wear suits either.  Beyond the conference, as some commenters note, we almost never teach in suits.  The men in my department tend to wear long-sleeved shirts and ties when they teach, but most of the men professors in other departments wear jeans or khaki pants with a fleecy vest and hiking boots.  (That’s the preferred look around here, anyway, but it’s probably more casual on average than other parts of the country might be.)

My advice to job candidates is to dress to fit in with the best-dressed folks at the professional conference where they’ll be interviewed.  After all, you’ll be spending more time on average hanging out in the book exhibit and lobby and attending sessions than you will be spending in interviews, and you’ll want to look and feel reasonably comfortable all day long.  And fitting in is what you want to convince your potential future colleagues you can do. Continue Reading »

38 Comments »

October 13th 2011
Is That Love?

Posted under fluff

11 Comments »

October 12th 2011
Who’s killing the footnote?

Posted under American history & book reviews & European history & jobs & students & technoskepticism

Alexandra Horowitz blames e-books, but footnote-killing is a longstanding trend among non-virtual academic book publishers for at least twenty years.  Most university presses and tradey U-press lines use endnotes, period.  (And who other than university presses make such generous use of notes, anyway?  Nonfiction trade books usually offer the clumsy and much more paper-consumptive apparatus of citing sources by quoting the beginning of a sentence, followed by ellipses, and then listing the relevant sources.  Are tiny numbers on the page really all that distracting to the average reader?  Srsly?)   

My understanding was that the increase in paper costs nearly 20 years ago led most academic publishers to switch from footnotes (at the bottom of each page) to endnotes (at the back of the book.)  Somehow, I was informed, this saves paper.  I can remember the last time I read a book with footnotes–ironically, it was Anthony Grafton’s The Footnote:  A Curious History (1997), which I re-read with my graduate seminar a few weeks ago, and which for obvious reasons offers footnotes rather than endnotes.  (Horowitz’s exploration on the life and death of the footnote uses and cites Grafton generously, too.)  But I think when it was published 14 years ago, it was already exotic for having resisted a publisher’s insistence on endnotes.

My foremost concern about e-books–or perhaps more specifically with the Kindle, although I hope those of you in the know will inform me if this is true of other e-readers–is that it makes citations by students unnecessarily annoying.  Continue Reading »

43 Comments »

« Prev - Next »