A ring-a-ding-ding: the awful oppression of wealthy heterosexualists never ends!

We have a new contender for the Oppression Olympics.

My favorite was this part:

“Please remove your giant diamond rings,” wrote one contributor to a community forum on Urbanbaby.com last week, billing her post as a public service announcement. “I work at a non-profit,” she continued, “and when I interview someone who is sporting a huge diamond, I immediately deduct points from that person. I talked about this with some of my colleagues today, and they feel the same way. It’s just an unnecessary risk.”

The poster later clarified that she has a specific reason for resenting when applicants bring their bling to an interview: She works for a non-profit that helps African women and children suffering from the effects of the conflict diamond trade. Continue reading

What part of “no solicitors” don’t you understand?

Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Here at the ranch, we have a sign on the front door that says “No solicitors” in big letters.  Because you all know what a friendly gal I am, I added in smaller letters underneath, “friends welcome,” probably because I am still afraid deep down that perfect strangers will think I’m a b!tch.  (I know:  and this is a problem I should worry about?  I need to butch up, especially since I came out as a lesbian earlier this summer.)

Well, apparently I should just let perfect strangers think I’m a total b!tch, because in spite of my sign, those goddamned solicitors keep ringing my doorbell and bothering me throughout the day.  Twice in the past two days I’ve been bothered by 1) a young woman selling children’s books, and 2) a tiresome godbag and his l’il disciple.  Even more amazing to me–aside from the apparent lack of reading skills and/or comprehension–is the fact that BOTH tried to ARGUE with me when I pointed to the sign and said, “No solicitors!  Thank you!”  #1 tried to tell me that the family across the street had sent her over (thanks, neighbor!), and #2 apparently thinks that just because he’s not looking immediately to take my money that my signage doesn’t apply to him.  Continue reading

White women’s political work: still impulsive, never strategic


One feature of Ryan Lizza’s very good intellectual biography of Michele Bachmann from The New Yorker last week contains this curious explanation of her development as a politician:

For many years, Bachmann has said that she showed up at the convention on a whim and nominated herself at the urging of some friends. She was, she suggests, an accidental candidate. This version of history has become central to her political biography and is repeated in most profiles of her. A 2009 column by George F. Will, for example, says that “on the spur of the moment” some Bachmann allies suggested nominating her.

But she already had a long history of political activism—the Carter and Reagan campaigns, her anti-abortion and education activism, her school-board race—and she had been targeting [former Minnesota State Senator Gary] Laidig for a year.According to an article in the Stillwater Gazette,on October 6, 1999, Bachmann was talking about running against Laidig months before she went to the convention. “I tried to present information to Senator Laidig on Profile of Learning, he was not interested,” she said. “And I told him that if he’s not willing to be more responsive to the citizens, that I may have to run for his seat.” She told the St. Paul Pioneer Pressthat she had decided to run against Laidig a year earlier.

Once again, we have white women’s political activism cast as a “whim” or “spur of the moment” decision, rather than the result of careful planning and strategic thinking:  “Oh my heck, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout politics!  I just care so deeply about the children that I had to get involved!”  Very cannily, Bachmann’s signature issue in Minnesota state politics was activism on behalf of home schoolers and charter schools–in other words, as a concerned mother.  She is smart to rewrite her biography this way, and I’m sure Will grasps that it just wouldn’t do to have a female presidential candidate who looked at all ambitious, or even scheming–even though she threatened Laidig with a primary several times:  According to Lizza, “Laidig defended the education laws in the State Senate, which made him a target for Bachmann. “Michele came to me on several occasions and to my face said, ‘If you don’t vote to get rid of School to Work and Profiles, I will run against you,’ ” he said.”

Not very ladylike!  Continue reading

Grad students of color and white faculty FAIL

Via Inside Higher Ed, Karen Kelsky at The Professor Is In has a riveting post about the challenges facing graduate students of color and in overwhelmingly white departments, which is to say, the vast majority of academic departments in any discipline you can think of in the United States and Canada.  She’s been affiliated with three public research university Anthropology departments, and she details the ways in which the faculty in two of the three failed to respond effectively to the questions that graduate students of color posed to them, their discipline, and to their way of conducting business. 

The whole thing is worth a considered read, especially if you serve as a professor or advisor of graduate students and/or if you’re interested in dysfunctional departmental dynamics.  (Like most of us, she’s like a neurologist:  more certain on the diagnosis than on ideas towards a cure.)  While it won’t be a surprise to any nonwhite readers, perhaps some white readers will be taken aback by her frankness in discussing white privilege among so-called “white allies:”

Here’s what I want to say. I learned through these interactions that the vast majority of white people in the academy are absolutely clueless when it comes to race. Not race as some abstract category of analysis “out there,” but race as it is manifested daily in their/our own subject position and actions.

One archaeology colleague remarked to me at a cocktail party, . . . “Too bad for you cultural anthropologists. You should be like us in archaeology. We don’t have any race problems. Because all of our students are white!” I gamely tried to explain to this colleague that the absence of students of color in her program was actually a more profound sign of a “race problem” than any visible conflict could be, but she was unmoveable. Continue reading

Lecture capture: this year’s moonbeam and sparklepony technology?

Artwork by Stefani Rossi and Chloe Leisure

Over at The Clutter Museum, Leslie M-B has a great analysis of the moonbeams and sparkleponies of something called “lecture capture.”  What is “lecture capture?”  It sounds like a digital recording of a professor’s lectures that has all of the pitfalls and no advantages beyond old-fashioned video taping, except that the “product” can be posted on proprietary software.  It doesn’t take a technoskeptic like myself to see “lecture capture” as “intellectual capital capture” that can contribute mightily to the further adjunctification of our profession and the dumbing-down of public higher education.  Leslie explains:

This past week I received an e-mail alerting me that, because I teach in a particular classroom, I can have access to lecture capture this fall.  The e-mail, from the campus’s tech folks, reported that of students with access to this technology, 70 percent watched at least one capture per week, and 78 percent of students said they would like more classes to use lecture capture.  The lectures get posted to iTunesU and also to Blackboard (emphasis Historiann’s here.)

Those of you who know me well know that I have been an evangelist for the use of certain kinds of technology in higher ed–particularly blogs, wikis, c0llaborative mapping, and certain uses of mobile devices–but I’m deeply uneasy with lecture capture technology because I think it’s a step backward from the best uses of technology for instruction.

Lecturing and lecture capture are by their nature unidirectional. Yes, both lecturing and lecture capture could be made interactive–lecturing by peppering the class period with questions and activities, and lecture capture by adding some kind of commenting or discussion function wherever the audio and video are posted.  I have yet to see anyone use institutionally sponsored lecture capture in this way.

The lectures can be shared most easily within corporate repositories–Blackboard and iTunesU–rather than to open-source, not-for-profit educational repositories.  Yes, iTunesU has some fabulous stuff on it, but I’m not ready to share there.

It’s also too easy for the university to repurpose content in online courses that could be adjunctified. I’m not sure what the policy is at my current institution, but I signed away a lot of intellectual property rights at my last one.  In an age where people seem to think that education is just a matter of “delivering content” that translates into mad workplace skillz, I’m uneasy about providing the university with any multimedia content that could be aggregated into a enormous-enrollment course taught by a grossly underpaid and underinsured Ph.D.

Just go read the whole thing.  (I would just reprint it all here if it weren’t for my pesky respect for Leslie’s intellectual capital, my disinterest in “capturing” it for my own profit, and for Fair Use doctrine.)  In particular, instructors considering a flirtation with Satan Hirself should read this part: Continue reading