Granny watch: new fake issue for mainstream press, same old sexist dismissal

grannywolf“As Clinton ponders her second run for the White House, many variables are in play, from her age to her health to her economic platform to her status as a soon-to-be grandmother.”

I get it that Hillary Clinton is unlike every other presidential candidate in American history, not just as the only serious woman contender, but also as the wife of a former president, but:  srsly?  Todd Purdham implies here that grandmotherhood is going to so delight and derange Clinton that she’ll toss her last chance to run for president out the window.

We’ve had other presidents who were near relatives of previous presidents in American history three times before–the Adamses, the Roosevelts, and the Bushes*, not to mention the many brothers Kennedy who ran for president between 1960 and 1980–and clearly, in these cases the whole family is implicated in campaigns in a way that’s different from other presidential campaigns.  But I don’t remember the media running stories in 1998 about how George W. Bush might not run for president because he might have to miss his daughters’ high school prom night, do you?  (Oh, yeah:  The media were all about the presidential blow jobs back then.)  Mitt Romney’s dozens of grandchildren were never presented as a reason for him to kick back and let 2012 go by without him, although I recall several stories emphasizing the comfort his large family could give him after his loss. Continue reading

A modest proposal

wtfHow about humanities faculty and donors start crawling up the a$$es of engineering and business schools all over the United States and Canada about their recent hires? Let’s scrutinize their presence on social media–that’s easier than attempting to master whole fields we know nothing about.  We can just assert that we have all relevant knowledge about university policies and state and federal laws concerning employment, as well as a perfect knowledge of the state of engineering and business scholarship and public engagement?

Who wants to try to get a bunch of business and engineering faculty we don’t even know de-hired? Who’s with me? Wolverines!!!!

No? Well at least we can try to win the internets!  #whoaretheselosers #srsly

Kristopher Kennedy: now that’s Klassy with a Kapital “K”!

This is hilarious. Check out Tenured Radical today.  And you thought that not-so-concealed, not really carrying idiot in Idaho last week was going to be the dip$hit of the month!  To wit:

Preeminent Native American historian Jeani O’Brien wrote to UI Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy to ask him to reverse UI’s decision to un-hire Steven Salaita, and to say that considering the climate of intellectual liberty at UI, she’s super-duper glad that she turned down the university’s offer to become Director of Native American Studies a few years back.  She prefaced her two-paragraph letter with the words “I’ll be brief.”  Kennedy’s entire response:  “You were not brief enough.”

OK, that was intemperate and clearly demonstrates that the public pressure is getting to him.  His email to O’Brien was an unforced error, but here’s the really boneheaded move:  he left his personal contact information in his email to her, including an office and cell phone number, which Tenured Radical in her blog post today omitted out of an abundance of civility.  It’s like he’s just now learning about this new technology “electronic mail,” or “email” for short, that (a la Stephen Greenblatt 20+ years ago) is all about the “infinite mimesis.”  Yes!  One assy email can richochet around the nation and the world for others to behold and wonder at your assholery, on blogs and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and you name it.  Nothing ever goes away on the internet. Continue reading

Steady. Aim. Fire. Everyone’s SAFE!

cowgirlgunsign1Only in America, friends! Or as I said last week:  “Jesus Mary and Joseph.”  (Actually, for several days the intro to that post read “Jesus Mary and Jospeh,” but I don’t have readers who love to copyedit my blog posts of the sort that Tenured Radical gets. Praise be!) For those of you too lazy to click, I’ll enable you:

A professor at Idaho State University was wounded in the foot on Tuesday when his concealed handgun accidentally discharged in a classroom where students were present, the Idaho State Journal reported.

The police responded to a report of a university employee who had accidentally shot himself in a classroom of the university’s physical-science building. They discovered the wounded instructor, who had an enhanced concealed-carry permit. The weapon was in his pants pocket.

The newspaper identified the instructor as Byron L. Bennett, an assistant professor of chemistry. The police said no other injuries had been reported and no criminal charges had yet been filed.

In March, Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter signed legislation allowing concealed guns to be carried on the state’s public-college campuses. The law took effect in July.

Arthur C. Vailas, Idaho State’s president, joined with the presidents of the state’s other public colleges in opposing the legislation. “When they passed this law it was bound to happen,” he told the newspaper of gun-related accidents on the campus.

I would say that this is like shooting fish in a barrel, but that’s probably making it seem too challenging. Several people notified me about this via email and Twitter, knowing that I’m 3 hours behind most of you these days. As commenter Indyanna’s subject line put it: “Well, that didn’t take long.” Continue reading

The war on expertise: there are limits to the democratization of knowledge

einsteinrelativityThis American Life featured a fascinating–as in, car-crashtastic–example of the war on expertise that I thought many of you academic readers might be interested in, if you haven’t heard it already.  In a story called “Sucker Mc-squared” (Mc-squared as in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, not Mc- as in McDonald’s), Robert Andrew Powell tells the story of Bob the Electrician, and of Bob’s conviction that he alone had discovered a fatal flaw in Einstein’s theory.  You can hear the entire story here–it’s well worth 20 minutes of your time.

To summarize:  Bob takes a year-long self-funded sabbatical to study physics and prove that Einstein had it all wrong.  Powell tries to get real physicists to read the paper that Bob produces over the course of the year, which turns out to be quite a chore because it turns out that Bob is kind of like the old joke about asylums being full of Napoleons:  there are thousands of cranks around the world who believe Einstein’s theory–and by extension all of modern physics–is wrong, and they are a plague upon real, working, university- and U.S. government-affiliated physicists in much the same way that Holocaust Deniers, Constitutional Originalists, and Lost Causers are to historians; climate change denialists are to real climate scientists; and anti-vaxxers are to real physicians.  In sum, these cranks have no confidence whatsoever in expertise or in the value of the credentials that real historians, scientists, or doctors have.  But yet, they crave their respect and demand to be acknowledged by the experts.

 Why does Bob believe that all of physics has it all wrong?  Why is he argumentative and defensive when finally Powell convinces a real physicist (Brant Watson of the University of Miami School of Medicine) to explain to him why he’s all wet?  Why does he admit that he doesn’t understand the advanced training in mathematics that physicists receive, and still believe he’s right?  SPOILER ALERT!
Continue reading

Call the whaaaaaaaaaambulance!

OMFG.  This is a completely incoherent critique of Orange is the New Black because–get this!–the show which is about a women’s prison doesn’t portray male prisoners realistically or accurate to their numbers in U.S. prisons.  See if you can make more sense of it than I can.

Hey, Concern Troll:  where was your column about the mis- or under- or stereotypical representations of women on just about every other television program or movie ever made?  Did you have this concern about Oz, or Silicon Valley, or The Bachelor?  I guess I missed that.  All I can see is that you’re complaining that you can’t see a man like you on the one semi-high profile program on TV that features women’s stories (and not just white women’s stories!) Continue reading