Archive for the 'local news' Category

September 13th 2012
La Loca contemplates bespoke suits and online education. Historiann contemplates the profit motive at her allegedly non-profit employer.

Posted under American history & bad language & jobs & local news & unhappy endings & wankers

I know many of my readers also follow Dr. Crazy, but just in case you missed her post from earlier this week, I’ll show you a preview and encourage you to go read the whole post over at her place.  First of all, she writes:

You might think that I am a person who would pass over an article about $4,000 suits in the New York Times, but you would be wrong.  Because the thing is, this article has a hell of a lot to say about higher education, I think, at least from my perspective.

Interesting, no?  She quotes from the story, in which the author explains why a guy making $4,000 custom-made suits only makes $50,000 a year himself.  “As I watched Frew work, it became glaringly obvious why he is not rich. Like a 17th-century craftsman, he has no economy of scale.”

[T]he phrase “no economy of scale” sure did stand out to me and ring a giant bell in my head.  And then I glanced back up at the preceding paragraph (the joys of reading on paper rather than electronically: you can return to a thing you otherwise would have glossed over), and I noted the following: “he explained how he customizes every aspect of its design” and then, “Modern technology cannot create anything comparable.”

Does this sound familiar to any of y’all?  ‘Cause it sure does to me.  Wearing non-fancy clothes to do heavy lifting? Check.  Customizing every aspect of the design for the individual?  Um, check.  That is, in fact, the entire pedagogical premise behind “active learning” in the classroom.  The inability of modern technology to create the particular product that Frew is selling?  Um, YES.  Look, I’ve taught online, and I have many students who’ve taken courses online, although not all of them have done so with me.  They and I will tell you that it is not the same fucking thing as doing it face to face. So the question then becomes, does a $4 suit do the same thing that a $4,000 suit does? Continue Reading »

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September 11th 2012
Ph.D.s from the previous decade need not apply? We ain’t got the do-re-mi!

Posted under jobs & local news & unhappy endings & weirdness

Via friend and commenter ej, I learned that a job ad run by the English department at Baa Ram U. has raised some questions among job seekers and other academics.  Sisyphus has a post about this, and so does Parezco y Digo, who industriously wrote to the Chair of the English Department Search Committee to ask why they’re limiting their candidate pool to those with 2010-2013 Ph.D.s.  (To his credit, the Chair wrote back and gave permission to print his reply in full.)

When we ran a search in the History department last year, we were instructed that we could not consider applicants who were either tenured or those who had the equivalent experience of a tenured Associate Professor, but we were not instructed to limit our applications pool otherwise.  And indeed, our four campus finalists were people whose Ph.D.s ranged from 2006 to 2011, and they ranged in age from perhaps their mid-30s to their mid-50s.  I don’t think English is interested in age discrimination.  My guess is that English is looking to hire people with less experience instead of more experience, mostly because our salaries are so low and the pre-existing faculty had zero raises–we never get cost-of-living increases, so it was merely a suspension of our merit increases–from 2008 to our paltry raise in 2012.

(That said, I agree with Dr. Crazy’s point that the English department is being lazy and short-sighted here. Continue Reading »

45 Comments »

September 9th 2012
How d’ye like them apples?

Posted under American history & childhood & fluff & happy endings & local news

This is September in Colorado:  cool nights and warm afternoons with clear, blue skies.  We’re lucky to have an heirloom apple tree in our yard, which this year is absolutely loaded with fruit.  (The hot, dry summer has been perversely great for the Colorado fruit crop.  This tree ain’t exactly an orchard, but it appears to share in the local bounty.)  With any luck, we’ll have enough pies and applesauce to last us until the apple blossoms open next spring.

Maybe it’s due to my huge fangirl crush in the 1970s on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series, but I’ve always been inordinately charmed by “free food,” and aggressively motivated to do something with it when I find it.  When I was a little girl, I loved finding those ferny weeds in people’s lawns that looked like Queen Anne’s Lace, but whose roots resembled (and tasted like) thin, pale carrots.  (Maybe they were Queen Anne’s Lace?  I don’t know.)  I remember a scrawny clover whose lemony leaves we used to chew.  My greatest childhood discovery was perhaps a patch of strawberries along a lazy spring that burbled up in the woods by my house. Continue Reading »

24 Comments »

September 6th 2012
Blogs to books: an opportunity or a big mistake? You decide.

Posted under local news & publication

Blogging in my dressing gown again!

From time to time, I’ve been encouraged to consider publishing a book comprised of blog posts at Historiann, plus (presumably!) some new, not-published-on-the-blog material.  While I’m always terribly flattered by the suggestion, I have real problems with this idea on a number of levels.

Maybe some (or most?) bloggers hope they’ll be the next Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame–the book about the blog that begat the book that begat the Nora Ephron movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep–I don’t know of too many books-from-blogs or Twitter feeds that are all that impressive or successful.  Most of them seem to me to be (like most blogs, perhaps) disposable celebutainment, “lifestyle” books in the Martha Stewart style, books about weird diets, or baby blogs turned into baby books.  Even  Julie and Julia was a pretty bad book–entertaining, but poorly written in large sections and only lightly edited, if at all, and it only made me wish I had followed the blog in real time.  (Ephron’s movie was the product of a larger and more mature imagination.)

In the main, my problems with the book-to-blog concept revolve around the fact that blogs are a particular genre of communication that I don’t think translate particularly well to other media, and maybe to print media in particular: Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

August 27th 2012
What chaps my a$$ this week?

Posted under American history & jobs & local news

I’m so glad you asked.  How about hosting a visit from the President of the United States in the quad next to your office and classroom building during the second week of classes, of course!  This is very exciting for Baa Ram U., as President Obama and the leadership here share the same neoliberal vision for higher education apparently, but for those of us who actually work here and teach face-to-face classes to actual human students with our own voices and physical bodies (for the time being!), what a pain in the a$$!  They’ve already started shutting down the parking lots adjacent to my building, and tomorrow (the day of the visit) we can’t even get into our offices.  They don’t care if we already have IDs and keys–no access, period.  But of course, we’re expected to teach our regularly scheduled classes!  Perfect.

I’ve seen a U.S. President up close (sorta).  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

August 24th 2012
GOTADNC!

Posted under fluff & local news

Leaving campus today, I walked by a car with a Colorado license plate that read “GOTADNC.”  I thought to myself:  someone is advertising that she had an abortion (D & C)?  That’s pretty bold!  Or maybe the car belongs to a gynecologist, even though that doesn’t really make sense?  (As in:  “I just gotta do me some D & Cs!)  Or maybe it belongs to a local Dem pol who’s on her way to the Democratic National Convention?  (Get it?  GO TA DNC?  You betcha!)

So I e-mailed a colleague about this, and she Continue Reading »

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August 23rd 2012
Everybody knows.

Posted under jobs & local news & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

As cynical as I try to be, I just can’t be cynical enough. Here’s what I’ve learned so far in our first week back to class at Baa Ram U.:

  • Departments across the university are offering online classes taught by grad student and adjunct labor in order to fund research and professional travel for their regular faculty and grad students.
  • Instead of “unethical” or “scandalous” or “a shocking abrogation of professional and moral values,” this is called “entrepreneurial.”  The money generated by teaching face-to-face classes doesn’t count for anything–the regular faculty have to become drummers and middle-managers of an expanded exploited class of laborers, in addition to doing our regular teaching, research, and service.
  • Apparently, the administrative class at my uni have adopted the values that bankrupted the banking industry:  sell something of dubious and unproven quality or value just to make a buck.  To hell with intellectual or educational values–we’re all about the money, honey! Continue Reading »

28 Comments »

August 15th 2012
Yellowstone: le safari de l’Amerique du Nord

Posted under fluff & happy endings & local news

In our Yellowstone adventure, every day was full of marvels and wonders we don’t get to see or experience in our everyday lives.  We saw, in order:  lots of elk (bulls mostly), marmots, a coyote, bison galore, a black wolf, and a black bear!  (Fratguy thinks it was a grizzly bear, but I say it was black and I’m sticking to my story.)  Several brown, cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout were caught (and released.)  Plus of course we saw loads of geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and the like volcanic wonders, like Castle Geyser here on the right.

Once again, I was struck by the numbers of French, German, Japanese, and Chinese tourists.  I also heard some Russian and Italian spoken by other parties.  All of western Wyoming really was full of French people–we chatted with a few families on a French tour who stopped in the same hotel we did last night in Jackson Hole. Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

August 7th 2012
Gone fishin’.

Posted under fluff & happy endings & local news

Mama needs a break, kids.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit several of our major National Parks and Monuments this summer– Arches National Park Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Mesa Verde, and now Yellowstone.  (Touring these parks is kind of an expansive version of a staycation for us westerners.)

I wonder what kind of charismatic megafauna we’ll see–moose?  A bear?  A cougar?  I haven’t seen a cougar up close and personal since I almost stepped on one’s tail in Strathcona Provincial Park in British Columbia in 1997.  It was the one time in my life when I was left literally speechless, and could only gesture to the giant tail and the terrific haunches to which it was attached.  I can probably live happily without coming that close to a cougar ever again. Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

July 25th 2012
I, at least, ain’t got the do-re-mi

Posted under jobs & local news & weirdness & women's history

The good news:  I got a raise for the first time in four years!  The bad news:  my total raise for all four of those years was $1,860.  Yes, that’s right:  I am worth exactly $465 more per year, if we average that out over four years.  In those four years:

  • I have taught 5 6 new courses and co-taught another new course, meaning that six seven out of sixteen courses over the last four years were entirely new.
  • I have written and published 2 essays in peer-reviewed journals, one book review essay, and one non-peer reviewed essay, plus a bunch of miscellaneous shorter essays.  I have also written seven conference papers (two of which were article-length and precirculated; all the while making progress on a book manuscript too, about three and a half out of six or seven chapters.)
  • My book won an “honorable mention” for a prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association and the American Historical Association.
  • A chapter from my book was excerpted in Women’s America (edited by Linda K. Kerber, Joan Sherro DeHart, and Cornelia Hughes Dayton).
  • I have given four invited talks or lectures at four different universities in the U.S.
  • I have served on a search committee and put in three years on the College of Liberal Arts’s Tenure and Promotion Committee.
  • I reviewed four book manuscripts (one of them twice) and four article manuscripts (one of them twice) for publication.

At this rate, I might break into the high five figures before retirement!

Continue Reading »

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