Three: it’s a magic number.

This is how I’m spending my time on the world wide time-wasting web these days when I’m trying to avoid my book revisions for twenty minutes or so:  reading various commentaries that come in threes.  It’s fun!  And there are THREE of them, not just one, so more time-wasting that feels a little like intellectual work, but really isn’t compared to finishing my book! Continue reading


Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao writes a column in the Washington Post describing internet trolling, her company’s efforts to control it, and how the trolls turned on her:  “after making these policy changes to prevent and ban harassment, I, along with several colleagues, was targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post my private information online and death threats. These were attempts to demean, shame and scare us into silence.”

Without any self-awareness, trolls in the comments at the WaPo prove her right on every point.  No death threats there–yet–but lots of accusations that Pao is a “social justice warrior,” a “professional victim,” a “narcissistic careerist,” and comments I don’t understand demeaning her spouse.

Nice internet you’ve got there.  It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

Red Alert! Wisconsin lege moves to destroy tenure at state unis.

cowgirlgunsign1David J. Vanness, an Associate Professor in Population and Health Sciences at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has started a petition to thwart a proposal to destroy tenure as we know it at public universities there.  He explains:

In the Omnibus Motion adopted by a 12-4 vote of the Joint Finance Committee on May 29, 2015, the Board of Regents is to be granted new authority, which even if not exercised, by its very existence will create a chilling effect upon the research and teaching activities of our faculty and staff. Specifically, language in point 39 of the motion states that the “… Board may, with appropriate notice, terminate any faculty or academic staff appointment when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision regarding program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection, instead of when a financial emergency exists as under current law.” Our fear is that this language is so broad and imprecise that it would allow for programs of academic inquiry and instruction (or even individually targeted tenured faculty within programs) to be terminated on the basis of political whim and convenience.

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Public engagement round-up: gimme your two cents, willya?

cowgirlropeknotsInspired by a comment by Matt L. on the previous post, I suggested that the relatively newly institutionalized requirement for faculty to show evidence of “public engagement” was a good thing, although as usual I’m skeptical that it’s something that we’ll have to do on our own time and our own dimes, like most of the rest of the “service” requirement in our annual faculty evaluations.  But is this an expectation that the rest of you are held to, or is it just something that’s happening at my Morrill Land Grant Aggie school, where public engagement was part of the mission statement going back in 1870?

So I want to collect some evidence on the question of public engagement.  If you would, in the comments tell me

  1. What kind of institution you serve
  2. What sujbect/s you teach
  3. Whether public engagement is an expectation in your department, and
  4. What specific activities count as public engagement

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