Archive for the 'weirdness' Category

November 12th 2012
The culture war next time.

Posted under American history & class & unhappy endings & weirdness

Thomas Edsall has some interesting thoughts about the Kulturkampf and the jobs crisis–go read.  I don’t agree with everything he writes–for example, I’m sure that he’s wrong to declare victory on behalf of the Left in the culture war, because the beauty of the Kulturkampfen mentality is that there’s always another front to advance to when forced to retreat on other fronts!  But this part of his argument caught my eye:

On a more sobering note for Democrats, a slight majority (51 percent) of voters agreed with the statement “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals” compared to 43 percent saying “Government should do more to solve problems.” This despite the fact that, as The New York Times reported in a Feb. 11, 2012 story, “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It”:

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007.

The story points out that many people

say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.

And yet, of course, no Americans are refusing to cash unemployment or Social Security checks!  Some of them are voting for pols like Mitt Romney and Ayn Ryan, perhaps to assuage their guilt and feelings of failure.  Continue Reading »

22 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 »

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 »

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 »

July 27th 2012
From the mailbag: Enceinte, and doing everyone else’s job for them

Posted under Gender & jobs & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Today, we have yet another irrational reaction to a pregnant faculty body.  A regular reader writes in on behalf of a colleague:

Hi Historiann!

I’ve got a question I’d like to throw open to your readership.  I have a pregnant colleague who’s due at the very end of the fall semester. We don’t have a paid maternity leave, so her plan is to take sick leave for the last week of classes, if necessary, then use our long winter break as her “maternity leave” and resume teaching in the spring. She’s already worked up syllabi for her fall classes that are structured so the last week or so of meetings are devoted to research presentations, paper workshopping, etc., and can be easily covered by willing colleagues (including myself). And because she’s a responsible person, she decided to tell our department chair and dean about this now, months in advance.

Well. The dean acted like she’d never dealt with this problem before, and was not at all happy with the arrangement. What if my colleague had to take sick leave for more than a week? She should really be prepared to have more than one week covered by colleagues. Moreover, she should rewrite all her syllabi so that the material during those weeks aligned with the specialties of the colleagues she intended to cover for her. (Note: she’s the only person in our department in her field, though plenty of us would be competent to pinch hit in her area for a class meeting or two.) The dean seems very concerned about any possible unfairness, surprises, etc., to our students.

Am I right in thinking this is straight-up gender discrimination? It seems to me that the burden of preparing for every possible contingency should not fall on my colleague. If she came down with a sudden illness in the middle of the semester, we’d have to cope, with no pre-existing plan in place. And if she had a permanent disability that affected her mobility, say, not accommodating those needs would violate the ADA. Continue Reading »

34 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 »

34 Comments »

June 23rd 2012
Michigan mishegas over vaginas

Posted under American history & Gender & the body & unhappy endings & weirdness & women's history

Michigan border guard

I’m about to fly off for my annual sojourn to the ancestral heartland, and while I was buried in the eighteenth century last week, it came to light that some time-traveling pols from the eighteenth century have joined the Michigan House of Representatives!  Remarkable providences!  I try to prevent my worlds from colliding, but the Michigan ledge just won’t let me.  According to their thinking, vaginas should be the object of legislation, but people with vaginas should not be heard, and we sure don’t need to discuss the icky particulars.

I’ll be sure to ask every Michigander I meet if I’m truly welcome in their state.  Will there be a border check, I wonder?  Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

June 20th 2012
Mudwoman in Virginia?

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & childhood & Dolls & Gender & jobs & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Howdy, friends.  Since I’ve been living in the long eighteenth century for the past week or so, at least in my own head, I haven’t been consuming either print or electronic news as I usually do.  But several of you have written to ask my opinions on the unexpected and untimely cashiering of the President of the University of Virginia, Teresa A. Sullivan, last week.  As many of you know much better than I, Sullivan had been prez for only two years, and was the first woman chosen to lead Mr. Jefferson’s university.  This morning, I read something that several of you (in person and via e-mail) had already suggested to me, namely that forces on the university’s Board of Visitors against Sullivan were peeved at her resistance to online education.  (Earlier this week, other reporting suggested that Sullivan was perceived as reluctant to cut low enrollment programs such as German and Classics.)

I’m really grateful to you readers for the e-mails and the prodding on this, but since I’m actually making some research and writing progress this week on my own irrelevant and self-indulgent intellectual work, I’d like to turn the conversation over to you.  Some of you who have written to me have UVA connections, so feel free to discuss the Sullivan firing and its causes and consequences. Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

June 2nd 2012
“No Solicitors” means you, actually

Posted under local news & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Courtesy of Subversive Cross Stitch

Yegads.  What is it with these door-to-door hucksters who think that 1) “No Solicitors” doesn’t apply to them, and 2) who argue with me about it instead of beating a hasty retreat?  (Aside from being just plain irritating, do they really think they’re going to make the sale?)

I looked up the definition of “solicitor” last year, after being argued with by a religious nut who claimed that he wasn’t a solicitor because he wasn’t try to sell me anything.  Here’s the first non-obsolete Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of solicitor:  “One who entreats, equests, or petitions; one who solicits or begs favours; a pleader, intercessor, advocate.”  Notice that this says nothing about sales–it suggests that anyone asking for my time in the service of any cause whatsoever (political, religious, or personal profit) without a personal invitation from me is in fact A SOLICITOR. Continue Reading »

17 Comments »

May 21st 2012
Your free laugh today: George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina

Posted under bad language & Gender & happy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Via Echidne, we learn that Tbogg has discovered that MRAs don’t understand how social media or the intertoobz work.  Also:  they have totally crap spelling and punctuation:

Misunderstanding how the Twitter works, George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina seemed to think he was using his “inside voice” when speaking (tw@tting) to [Sandra] Fluke on Twitter only to find out, in a very round-about way, that she elected to retweet to her 36,000 followers what George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina had to say to her and she only did this because she is obviously racist against douchebags who like to shout stuff at ladies on the internet because, as we like to say: virtual manhood is better than no manhood at all.

Anyway, that is where I came in when I screen-capped the whole exchange and made a post out of it, which brings us to last week when George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina decided to google himself on the internet and OH HOLY $HIT! he is now kind of semi-famous for Doing Internet Swears At Ladies and now that all that money he spent on eHarmony is just f^(king wasted because ladies will not want to go on a date with him ever ever again besides the fact that all he ever wants to talk about is golf which is like the third gayest sport ever. Besides, also: boring. Continue Reading »

17 Comments »

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