Thursday, April 03, 2008

This is What Brings Me Back?

On of the reasons I don't post is I'm afraid of controversy. I don't like being attacked, and I especially don't like being attacked for something I haven't said. Since that was a response to one of my first posts, I'm even more extremely gun-shy.
But the essay here that Dr. Crazy, New Kid, FemaleScienceProfessor, and others, responded to, makes me just too mad to stay out.
Has the man never heard of Dooce?
Okay. Granted. That was, what, 6, 7, more? years ago, and in the accelerated evolution of electronic media, that's generations. But the woman was fired for blogging "dirt" about her company. I would like Mr. (Professor? Dr.?) Plagens to illustrate other industries where critical bloggers are welcome. Because I can't think of any.
That doesn't mean there aren't any, it just means it isn't common.
And academia is.
Oh, sure, we get lots of flex time; we work harder than many industries and get less credit (both monetary and "regular") than many industries; we get to think about things instead of working with our hands (unless we work in a discipline -- engineering; art -- that requires it, but even then it's a different kind of handiwork); lots of other things that make us special.
But we're still an industry, and we're still made up of people. People of all kinds. Despite the dream of the ivory tower, academia is just as full of divas and blowhards and cranks as any other industry. That is, it's just as full of people who do not want anyone to be different from themselves, and who will do everything in their power to make sure difference is squashed. (To misquote Anastasia from months ago when she went to a conference, for a bunch of liberals academics can be awfully conservative.) More to the point, the power held by such people can be quite considerable. In fact, it seems to me that only in the entertainment industry is it as easy to guarantee you'll never eat lunch in this town again; despite the desperate wish for a meritocracy, academia is rife with gossip and who-you-know-ness.
New Kid & Profgrrrrl addressed the Google question. They addressed it from the point of view of their students, but I do think there is still an attitude that academics should not have lives outside of academia. If you have time to blog about leaky faucets, or the cute apron you sewed up yesterday, you're not working hard enough.
Finally, being on the internet in and of itself is risky. I had posted pictures of our daughter on my professional website, and my husband asked me to take them down because he doesn't want something to happen to her. Sounds paranoid, right? It probably is -- but just go read FSP's post, and see if you still think pseudonymity is really just a response of a "fragile, frightened creature."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'Cause I Haven't Posted in a While

Seen at a bunch of places.

From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor (I'm not sure, I don't know many of my relatives; I grew up in an entirely nuclear family.)
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. (I think I have over a hundred of my own to pass down to my child.)
9. Were read children's books by a parent. (Oh! the stories my mother tells me of reading to me.)
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (I almost forgot the dance lessons when I was very young.)
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively. (Except when the media is being contemptuous of academic/intellectual types.)
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs (I think I won one very small scholarship.)
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18 (Ha! yeah, right)
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child (My mother & father's, but it was original & it does mean they had time to produce it. That was mostly when they were being hippie/bohemian types, but that's pretty much a class privilege also, isn't it.)
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (I think my mother was still paying the mortgage, but it wasn't rented.)
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course (See #18.)
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school (But I grew up before that was the thing to do.)
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family (It was some offering from my mother's work, and there were a bunch of her colleagues also; I can't imagine us going otherwise.)
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yeah, There's No Gender Inequalities

School Popularity Affects Girls’ Weights But why should we study boys? and why should we be concerned about the fact that there will always be someone at the bottom rung of the popularity ladder (because if there weren't, it wouldn't be a ladder now, would it.)

Giving Disorganized Boys the Tools for Success (Taking this at face value...) But why should we look into why girls are organized? or why boys don't "understood that in seventh grade he was responsible for handing in his homework, instead of waiting to be asked" (~12 paragraphs down on the webpage)?

Friday, December 07, 2007

I'm Annoyed*

I hate when people modify "unique" with comparatives. Something can't be "fairly unique" or "one of the most unique" X, regardless of what says. Unique means there's only one. This modification is common, so common I fear "unique" will some mean only unusual. It's also so common that my reaction is now knee-jerk: I get annoyed even with appropriate modifiers, such as "genuinely," until I remember they're okay.
But you know what's worse? When the New Yorker uses the term "trending."

*I'm all kinds of negative things, but I'll just leave it at this for now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Which I Prove Myself Master of Avoidance

I am the number one Goggle hit for "how many calories does teaching burn." It is the most common way people get to me. Who knew so many people were interested in the topic?
Have any of you read "Um"? I'm very disappointed, and am thinking of blogging a nitpicky comment (that is, hardly a review) of it. Just because I'm that mean.
The most annoying thing about yesterday is when I went to another university address & found that I'm still on a mailing list I should have been removed from over 6 years ago.
Thank you for stopping by & being supportive. I'm trying to ignore it right now.
The misspelling at the top is on purpose. I'm trying something.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Want an Endowment

Not a line in the state budget.
My university has a pretty good library, with subscriptions to almost all the journals I read, but it doesn’t have everything. (What library does. That’s not my point.)
However, I am a lucky little student, because my university belongs to a nationwide consortium of universities, wherein a student/staff/faculty can get library privileges at little to no cost at the libraries of any of the other universities. It’s sort of like ILL, except I can actually go to the other university’s libraries, even those that are restricted to affiliates of the other university. Why is this special? Well, first, not all journals have print versions anymore, and so ILL won’t do any good. Second, if the university is close enough, I can get to the library sooner than the libraries can get the book/journal to me. Third, libraries don’t necessarily lend out journals. So I took advantage of this deal recently, and visited a private university that’s part of this consortium.
The spaces – I went to three of the libraries – are beautiful. There are maps on the walls of the bigger libraries, explaining where different call numbers are. The libraries were quiet.
They have a library devoted to my field, so almost all the journals are in one place, and are not mixed in with other fields.
The library employees are helpful. As I said, the bigger libraries have maps, and I took advantage of them. Every single time, a not-student-aged woman stopped to ask me if I needed help figuring out where I was going.
And I think all of that has to do with the money.
-At my university, "pretty" takes a back seat to "utile." A very far back seat.
-At my university, the big libraries double as computer labs, so there's a fair amount of chatter from people working on projects or socializing online.
-At my university, there isn't enough money to separate out departments quite as much, even though my department is pretty well-funded.
-At my university, when the budget was slashed, the work didn’t go away with the salary line, and the people left are doing the work of at least two; they don’t have time to stop and ask if someone needs help.
I know endowments aren't everything, but there is something very important about the space in which you work. (For example: I've been working at home, and the mere presence of a window has made such a difference that my work output is orders of magnitude better.) And a line-item in a state budget can't produce that kind of space.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Kate already has grandchildren in the mutation meme, and I haven't even started. (Hah. Look, today she's reminding me us. Er, on Monday. I'm a little behind.) I'm a little afraid of becoming inviable, because every time I hear "best" or "favorite" my mind goes blank. But here goes.

Kate passed this meme on to me. It was started by PZ Myers at Pharyngula as a means of demonstrating evolution in cyberspace.

First, the rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
  • You can leave them exactly as is.
  • You can delete any one question.
  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
  • You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-grandparent is Primate Diaries.
My grandparent is Thus Spake Zuska.
My parent is Kate.

The best young adult novel in SF/Fantasy is: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

The best scary movie in scientific dystopias is: Until the End of the World

The best sexy song in classic rock music is: Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (Traditional, but I'm a radio-listening kind of gal.)

The best cult novel in pre-Victorian fiction is: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I agree with Kate on this one.)

The best high-carb food in Polish cooking are pierogi. (Again, traditional -- but have you had them? Mm, mm, mm. Especially with fried onions.)

I am propagating this meme on to:





and anyone else who hasn't been tagged. Let me know if you play!