Talk about, um, constitutionality…

This is funny–funny ha-ha as well as funny-awkward. Via Corrente, a couple of satirists attended a class taught by John Yoo at Berkeley:

Who are the students in his classes, and why are they protesting the protesters? Would you take a class taught by Charles Taylor? How about Augusto Pinochet? (Well, would you have, when he was alive?) How embarassing is it that it’s Australian rather than American people who did this? It’s like academia is the last refuge of right-wing scoundrels these days. Continue reading

Lessons for Girls #14: Don't just ask, insist on help

Howling for help!

Yesterday’s post on “Mentors and mentoring:  whose responsibility?” got Sisyphus thinking about her grad school days, and the ways in which gender and class work in relationships between students and their mentors.  In a post called “Don’t just ask, insist on help (even if it makes you feel weird),” fourteenth in our popular series, Lessons for Girls, Sisyphus writes that a roommate of hers, “Brilliant Grad,” was in the same program as she but he appeared to have a totally different relationship with the faculty in their department because of his attitude of entitlement:

Brilliant Grad knows he is brilliant. People have told him so, and he has wildly succeeded in everything he has ever tried. And he works damn hard so that he can do what he wants to do. . . .

Brilliant Grad and I loved to talk and would constantly share stories. It was through him I realized that my parents’ working-class upbringings flavored a lot of my experience, and through me that he realized he was not middle class, but upper class. He went to an elite east coast prep school. I learned that there is an entire east coast class of people who think “everyone” goes to east coast prep schools. . . .

Brilliant Grad also went to a top-of-the-line liberal arts school, one you’ve all heard of I bet (I hadn’t, heh). I know he didn’t work through school; I don’t think he ever worried about how it would be paid for. He constantly told me stories of the cool things he and his friends did, created, wrote, filmed — everything. And he seemed to have strong, even intimate relationships with all of his professors.

So when he would come home and tell me something that Professor Wonderful said to him in his office, or how he had had this idea and knocked on his door to run it by him, if not daily, then every few days, I was confused. “Wow, how often do you go see him? Aren’t you … bothering him?” I’d ask. “No — isn’t that what he’s there for, to mentor us? What?” he asked as I continued to stare at him with an eyebrow raised, shocked. Profs are here to do $hitloads of research, not shoot the breeze with their grad students. I know I don’t go to my advisor unless I have a specific problem that I need her help with and I have already tried three different ways of solving it on my own.

So, what was the result of BG’s breezily peer-like–or brashly demanding?–relationship with the faculty in his and Sisyphus’s department? Continue reading

Mentors and mentoring: whose responsibility?

Were you mentored, or raised by wolves?

Whose responsibility is it to mentor junior faculty?  Some departments assign them an official “mentor” in their department, whereas others don’t.  There is some good do-it-yourself advice on “Finding Mentors” at Inside Higher Ed today that should be read by students and junior faculty alike.  Come to think of it, it might be of use to tenured faculty as well.  The somewhat exhausting fact of the matter is that tenure and promotion–even promotion to Professor–aren’t the end of the line, if you want to be active in your field nationally or internationally.  Everyone needs to stay active, make new friends, nurture ongoing professional friendships, and self-promote, to some extent.  (Fortunately for me, that’s one of my favorite parts of my job!)

Does your department assign mentors to incoming faculty?  What do you think of that kind of system?  I was talking to someone recently about this, and ze thought that it was a really effective way to help people strategize about publications–the faculty mentors’ main charge was to keep their mentees engaged in research and writing, and to help them figure out which journals or publishers would be appropriate.  In my first job, the department I joined had considered instituting a formal mentorship program, because over 13 years they had failed to tenure any of the previous four occupants in the line I was hired to fill.  But as I understood it, their conversations devolved into concerns about legal liability–could an unsuccessful tenure candidate sue hir mentor?  Would the mentor or the department be liable for bad advice?  Continue reading

Why does the NL stink up the joint, year after year?

americanleaguelogoFull disclosure:  I’m an American League snob.  I grew up near Tiger Stadium, and lived in eastern AL towns while pursuing my education (Boston and Baltimore)–I like to leave out those three years I lived within a subway ride of the Vet in Philadelphia.  And, oh yeah–the Yankees s^ck, but I never got into the partisan rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets.  I live closest now to a National League team–the Colorado Rockies–but aside from their Cinderella season in 2007, they’ve been consistent under-performers since they debuted in 1994.  (I’ve never been to a game at Coors Field myself–not out of principle, but rather lack of interest.)

So, why can’t the NL manage to win an All-Star gameContinue reading

Dean Dad makes you a counteroffer you can't refuse: zilch!

emptypocketsGo read Dean Dad on counteroffers, and why he supports his community college’s policy of not offering them to faculty or staff who get other job offers.  He’s careful to specify that his support for the anti-counteroffer policy is dependent on his context at a CC:  “nobody really comes here to study under so-and-so. Our faculty don’t bring in the mega-grants, and for the most part, we wouldn’t have the infrastructure to support them if they did.”  But, the objections he raises to counteroffers seems like it would apply to most of us non-superduperstar faculty toiling away at state and regional universities:  “Other employees quickly get the message, and system-gaming becomes a full-time job.  Loyalty is punished, performance ignored, and internal equity simply forgotten in the stampede.”   

I’m sympathetic to this argument–I have applied for jobs and even got a second job while still at my first job, and although I’ve never had a counteroffer, I dream of the day. . . but Dean Dad’s objection to counteroffers, although noble, seems idealistic in the extreme.  Continue reading

Where in the world was Historiann?

mayflowermohawklakeWell, from this photo on the right, you’d think I might have been in the Eastern U.S. this weekend.  Mayflowers?  Mowhawks?  What the heck, since I was in fact near my own home sweet ranch here in Colorado! 

All I can think is that when many of the trails in national parks were named around the turn of the previous century, it was also the time of the Colonial Revival and Playing Indian, as Phil DeLoria has described it.  Plus, plopping Eastern names on Western places was a way of extending concepts of (Anglo) American sacred space to the newly conquered West.  I wonder if any recent graduates with quality training in Public History and/or who have worked with the National Park Service might weigh in on this question…?  All I can guess is that it probably felt a lot less threatening to name a lake in the Rockies after Mowhawks instead of Utes, Cheyennes, or Arapahoes.  Continue reading

I'll be darned, I'm right again!

maddowclownYou know, I really hate to say I told you so–oh, but who am I kidding.  I love to say it!  I TOLD YOU SO.  Rachel Maddow–so full of promise, so smart on Air America, and such a total sellout on MSNBC–and Historiann saw it coming all along.  Say it:  you were right, Historiann!

Bob Somerby has been on fire this summer, stamping his feet and screaming about the mal-, and nonfeasance of the so-called “progressive media” on TV, that is, Keith Olbermann’s and Rachel Maddow’s shows on MSNBC.  Most people say, and apparently believe, that this year is the Dems main chance to do something about health care reform–if they don’t do it now, 2010 will be all about the midterms and then 2011 will be all about the 2012 Presidential election.  Why isn’t there any reasonably informed coverage of the facts and issues at stake in health care reform in our so-called “progressive media” (that is, on single-payer systems, of which there are many varieties to study and learn from around the world)?  Sing it with me children:  As Somerby says, “other nations are spending half as much,” and are getting better results than we get!  We wouldn’t accept this kind of low-quality for high prices when it comes to trivial consumer goods–why do we permit this when the consequences are life or death for many Americans?

So now, back to Maddow.  How did she spend her precious hour of network news time Thursday night?  The first thirty minutes were spent on John Ensign’s extramarital affair.  (And Somerby reminds us that Maddow actually spent time the previous night reading his love letters on the air!  Good God.)  This might be justified if Maddow had a local news program in Reno or Las Vegas, but really–that’s your top news story, Rachel?  Says Somerby: 

Corporate interests will win again—because, in place of real information, they keep handing you distractions. Sex toys.

Continue reading