Archive for October, 2012

October 30th 2012
What was excellent advice in 2008 looks positively prescient now!

Posted under American history & class & jobs & unhappy endings

I always thought this was a particularly good one, and not just because I grew up at the intersection of I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike.  I know a lot of you on the East and Best Coasts probably like to make fun of us yokels from Ohio, but like it or not, friends–those yokels will be picking your next president for you!  (And this yokel, now living in another swing state, has already cast her vote by mail, helping to pick your president too.)

It’s interesting to note (based on this trip down memory lane) that President Obama’s insular tendencies–and even his isolationism from powerful people in the Democratic Party–were clearly evident more than four years ago.  I know people don’t like it when I say this, but the President’s isolation, stemming from his refusal to use a great deal of the “soft power” tools of the presidency, is a political problem.  (And doesn’t the debate debacle in Denver earlier this month look different, having re-read that post?) Continue Reading »

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October 29th 2012
Hurricanes: another reason to appreciate the high plains desert, until the drought gets too bad.

Posted under American history & unhappy endings

Down, Sandy! Down girl!

I was very sorry to hear about Hurricane Sandy as I know that many of you regular readers and commenters live in the BosWash corridor and so stand to be flooded out, snowed in, and/or suffer damage to your homes (or all of the above!  Fun.)  I’ve been following the news today, and it looks to be one of those agonizingly slow-moving but fierce storms.  Here’s hoping that property is all that’s lost in this storm.

It’s really too bad neither of the major parties was courageous enough to make climate change an issue in the campaign this year.  (Scratch that–climate change was indeed a big issue in the Republican primary–the issue being who could deny the fact of anthropogenic climate change the fastest and promise more drill, baby, drilling!)  Although I had low expectations of President Obama, even I have managed to be disappointed by his inability or unwillingness to exercise leadership on so  many issues that are important to the Democratic base, climate change being just one of them.  I get it that the do-nothing congress has pretty much tied itself to the tracks of history in order to halt any possible Obama achievement for the past two years, but guess what?  That’s why they call it leadership.  You can’t let your political opposition dictate the terms of your agenda, let alone the boundaries of what you’re permitted to talk about.

Here’s hoping that everyone is safe and dry, even if you have to read this blog on your smartphone because you’ve lost your electricity!

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October 27th 2012
A felony arrest by the “language police!”

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & happy endings & wankers

Relicts of childhoods past.

Hey, kids–good news!  Self-appointed language liberator Ann Coulter has proclaimed “retard” to be OK again, and not at all an insult to disabled people, because she says so.  So get your “retard” on again, friends!

What?  You’re not interested in dusting that one off from elementary school in the 1970s and 1980s?  I bet you don’t even laugh at dead baby or fart jokes, either.  I guess the language police got to you, too. Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

October 23rd 2012
So exactly why did you resign, again?

Posted under jobs & weirdness

Did anyone else read this provocative nothingburger of an essay?  Michael Bérubé on “Why I Resigned the Paterno Chair:”

I read the Freeh report the morning it was released and proceeded to ignore every news-media outlet’s request to comment. A producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered called my English-department office, my office at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, my cellphone, and my home phone. For good measure, she e-mailed and tweeted me. That afternoon, I saw a cloud formation that pretty clearly seemed to be a smoke signal—”Professor Bérubé, this is NPR. Please call us RIGHT THIS SECOND.” Radio, TV, newsmagazines, and newspapers called and wrote. But I had nothing to say that day, and I have had nothing to say since. Until now.

If only he had clung to his original instincts!  Continue Reading »

34 Comments »

October 22nd 2012
Today’s example of brainless, fact-free so-called “Founding Fathers” worship

Posted under American history & European history & jobs & race & wankers

And it would have worked too, if it weren’t for you meddling Anti-Federalists!

Today’s example comes from Katherine Kersten, a fellow at something called the Center for the American Experiment in Crappy History.  It’s a twist on the “Obama is not an American” theme so popular with anti-Obamaniacs these days.  Big news, kids:  President Barack Obama’s agenda is not rooted in Kenyan anti-colonialism.  Instead, it’s rooted in Kaiserreich Germany!  Behold:

Progressivism views the roles of citizen and state very differently than our founding fathers did. The founders anchored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in three principles. They believed that human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inherent in nature and human dignity, and preexist the state. They believed that government should be limited, and that its primary purpose is to protect these rights. Finally, they crafted our Constitution to disperse power and curb its abuse through mechanisms such as checks and balances, and federalism.

As the 20th century opened, progressives like Woodrow Wilson — a former president of Princeton University — dismissed the Declaration and Constitution as outmoded. They insisted that America’s archaic political system was unsuited to solving the problems of a new industrial age. Ironically, however, they drew their own vision for perfecting democracy from a very undemocratic place: the imperial Germany of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn!  Now, forget about some American intellectuals’ fascination with German education back in the 1870s for just a moment, a phenomenon to which Obama is only very, very distantly attached, to say the least.  Did you see what she did with the so-called “Founding Fathers?”  Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

October 21st 2012
George McGovern, 1922-2012

Posted under American history

George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee for President, died this morning in his home state of South Dakota.  The New York Times obit included this description of the 1972 Democratic convention:

The nominating convention in Miami was a disastrous start to the general election campaign. There were divisive platform battles over Vietnam, abortion, welfare and court-ordered busing to end racial discrimination. The eventual platform was probably the most liberal one ever adopted by a major party in the United States. It advocated an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, amnesty for war resisters, the abolition of the draft, a guaranteed job for all Americans and a guaranteed family income well above the poverty line.

Several prominent Democrats declined Mr. McGovern’s offer to be his running mate before he finally chose Senator Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri.

Mr. McGovern’s organization was so disorganized that by the time he went to the convention rostrum for his acceptance speech, it was nearly 3 a.m. He delivered perhaps the best speech of his life. “We reject the view of those who say, ‘America, love it or leave it,’ ” he declared. “We reply, ‘Let us change it so we can love it more.’ ”

The delegates loved it, but most television viewers had long since gone to bed. Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

October 20th 2012
Creating a diverse pool of finalists for faculty jobs

Posted under Gender & jobs & race

Dive into the pool!

Nicoleandmaggie from Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured left a very smart comment in the peanut gallery of the last post that I thought deserved highlighting and discussing.  They write:

My department has had huge success hiring high quality women and minorities. (We’re almost all women and minority assistants and associates, in fact.) How do we do it? Well, we recruit widely and we pretty much just use rubrics to hire advanced assistants and new associates. We initially cut the pool by number of publications in a specific tier of journals. We look through the rest and rate on specific things in a grid using numbers. Then we compare people at the top with numbers that are above a certain threshhold. Then we double check all the women and minorities. We’re also good about policing potentially sexist and racist language and we almost completely ignore letters of recommendation.

We don’t assume that the woman or minority is the trailing spouse. And we end up with really strong final candidates even though our teaching load is a bit higher than average and we’re in the middle of nowhere. And then they accept the job. (Turns out hubby or partner is willing to be a trailing spouse and single women actually will take jobs in the middle of nowhere.) Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

October 18th 2012
Binders full of women

Posted under American history & Gender & women's history

Image credit here.

Some people are mystified as to why “binders full of women” is the meme that people remember from Tuesday night’s presidential debate.  Some men obviously don’t get it (see below), but I think a lot of women were struck by the awkwardness and belabored tone of Mitt Romney’s anecdote about improving the representation of women appointees in his gubernatorial administration in Massachusetts in the past decade.  In trying to demonstrate that he thinks about sex equity and has taken steps in his career to redress what he sees as an imbalance, he unfortunately only confirmed a Democratic perception of him as insular and out of touch with the worlds that most people live and work in.  Perhaps many were wondering like me, “the only time you thought about this was when you were nearly 60 years old and in public office?  What about all of those years at Boston Consulting Group and Bain?  Hmmm.”

(N.B.  Before demagoguing this, Democrats should ask themselves about their party’s commitment to sex equity and equal opportunity for women and men in the workplace.  How ’bout that 2008 primary season?  Remember that?  Then shut up, Democrats, and stop acting like your party isn’t the abusive boyfriend or husband warning women “It’ll be worse for you if you dump me for the other guy!“) Continue Reading »

38 Comments »

October 17th 2012
Marshall College scandal: Dr. Jones denied tenure!

Posted under fluff & jobs & students

Love you anyway!

Sad, but true.  Here’s an excerpt from the Archaeology department’s T & P committee letter to Dr. Jones (h/t Monocle Man for this one):

January 22, 1939

Assistant Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Chapman Hall 227B
Marshall College

Dr. Jones:

As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee’s deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria.

Demonstrates suitable experience and expertise in chosen field:

The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from “possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency” to “practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics” to “unabashed grave-robbing.” Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn’t surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist’s tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver. Continue Reading »

5 Comments »

October 15th 2012
The downside of being a Nobel laureate? The dance is mostly a stag affair.

Posted under European history & Gender & women's history

The early morning phone call (for North Americans)!  The endless numbers of invitations to give lectures!  Being taken seriously!  There is no end to the inconvenience of having won a Nobel Prize, apparently.  Doesn’t that make you feel better?  I know it makes me feel better about my obscurity and mediocrity!

I like this guy:

“Frankly, I have no complaints whatsoever,” says Martin Veltman, a physics laureate at the Universities of Utrecht and Michigan. Veltman shared the 1999 prize with his former student, Gerard ‘t Hooft, for work that put the mathematics behind the Higgs boson on sound footing. But Veltman does raise an eyebrow at some of the other members of the Nobel club. “Sometimes I wonder about the other laureates,” he says. “In fact I have discovered the truth of a remark by [Enrico] Fermi. Someone asked him: ‘What have the Nobel prize winners in common? His answer: ‘Nothing, not even intelligence.’”

Here’s something this year’s prizewinners have in commonContinue Reading »

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