July 19, 2008

My sister on Ronald Ayers

Sister: Can I leave a comment on your blog?

Academienne:  No I don't allow comments

Sister: oh. Well, I'll tell you my comment

Academienne: ok

Sister: After reading your Ronald Ayers post, I expected him to at least be mildly attractive and I think I just puked in my mouth a little bit when viewed his blogger profile and saw his picture.

Sister: He doesn't stand a chance with short-skirt-tit-showing girl

July 11, 2008

Not quite ready

A TIAA-CREF survey finds that new faculty members don't feel that graduate school prepared them for their jobs -- and women feel less confident than their male colleagues coming out of grad school.

According to IHE, women coming out of grad school feel less prepared than men when it comes to things like teaching, doing research, and advising. The one area where these women feel more prepared than men? "Serving on faculty committees." Perhaps women do a disproportionate share of the bitch work in grad school, leaving them slightly more prepared for the bitch work that will inevitably get dumped on them at their first jobs.

July 10, 2008

Conference fraud

The Guardian reports that the UK is becoming more cautious about granting visas to students and academics because some people are registering for academic conferences just to get into the country:
Universities holding academic conferences are being targeted by bogus overseas applicants, who are just looking to obtain a visa into the country, Education Guardian can reveal.

The bogus applicants attempt to register to attend conferences at UK universities in the hope of getting a letter from the university stating they are expected at the event. The letter would bolster the bogus applicant's request for a visa into the UK.
Okay, but say you're a grad student from a legitimate university with a legitimate advisor who thinks you will be at the conference -- but really you are only going to attend like one panel and then spend the rest of the week partying in Europe.  That's still okay, right?

July 8, 2008

Poverty stipends

Graduate students at the University of South Carolina report that they make only $9,590 per year, on average. Worse, many of them are required to pay tuition.

Confronted with the these complaints, the university has promised to form a committee. Great. Maybe the grad students can eat their report.

Shame, shame, shame.

Perez Hilton Hall

Some people at the University of Pennsylvania are unhappy that Logan Hall has been renamed after a donor's ex-wife, Claudia Cohen, who happened to be a gossip columnist:
“I, as an academic, am accustomed to seeing buildings with names like Newton, Copernicus, Darwin,” said Ponzy Lu, a chemistry professor at the university. “Then to see the name of this person, who is very fresh in our memory, who is not associated with a pursuit of knowledge — a gossip columnist: it strikes me as being totally idiotic.”
Not associated with the pursuit of knowledge? Why just today I have learned that Nicole Kidman gave birth to a girl, that Amy Winehouse's husband has been photographed taking drugs in jail, that Madonna's brother is writing an unauthorized expose, and that the Jonas Brothers are on tour. Sounds like certain stuffy professors could use a little gossip in their lives.

July 7, 2008

The power of tenure

Tenured economics professor Ronald Ayers still has a job (for now) despite viewing porn in his office and sending e-mails like this one:
In one exchange, Ayers reports that a girl in his economics class comes from a broken home and wonders if she waits tables at a nude or topless bar on the weekends. He likes her “wide-eyed innocence” and “little girl set of mannerisms,” and the fact that she wears short shorts and low-cut tops to class.
Ayers calls her “totally dumb. That may explain her interest in me. Perhaps she has flirted her way through college to an A average,” according to a Feb. 16, 2005, e-mail.

“Let me find out her weaknesses, flatter her, and then dig out more info to use to my advantage later,” Ayers continued. “I make no predictions other than that I will get together with her. It's in the air.”
Um ewwwww. Ayers was fired last year, but a faculty tribunal actually ruled in his favor, overturning the president's decision.... so now it's up to the UT Board of Regents to make a final decision -- and they don't look like they care for porn.

And look!  He has a blogger profile with four abandoned economics blogs.  Maybe he will have more time to blog when his ass is finally out of a job.

July 6, 2008

The hippies retire

With the aging baby boomer professors reaching retirement, some academic departments are losing their activist edge: "When it comes to those who consider themselves 'liberal activists,' 17.2 percent of the 50-64 age group take up the banner compared with only 1.3 percent of professors 35 and younger."

Turns out, professors under 35 do not feel like fighting the culture wars fought by previous generations, as they are too busy trying to pay the bills, raise their kids, and get tenure. But they are happy to have the old folks around:
[Goldrick-Rab, 31] considers herself the “intellectual heir” of her senior colleagues — “It’s like working with your grandparents,” she said fondly. . .
. . . in that you have to smile patiently while they tell you long stories about their heroic protests in the 1960s, and how kids today are selfish little shits.

July 2, 2008


The Chronicle has published a first person story by "Tom Quincey," a humanaties Ph.D. student who credits his success to all the weed he has smoked while in graduate school. For example, there was this one time when he wrote some notes for a paper while he was high, and then his professor said it could be published! He goes on for several paragraphs about how weed is healthy when compared to cocaine, heroin, binge drinking, and blah blah blah... but the best part is when he rationalizes his liberal guilt away:
Of course I've often felt troubled, politically, by my marijuana use: Here I am in the comfort of my apartment while unfortunate people are incarcerated for selling it to me. That's a form of hypocrisy, and it's led me to donate money to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). I admit that's not much, but it's something.
So he donates money to legalization advocates with zero political power. But once again... it's not like he's doing cocaine or something!!
By contrast, it's hard to imagine making a political virtue out of snorting coke. My impression is that habitual users simply don't care that they're indirectly wreaking havoc in Mexico and Colombia.
Sigh. Like many people, I smoked weed in college and view it as mostly harmless, but I hate when people blather on about how drugs make them creative and productive. I also get annoyed when people rationalize the societal consequences of their behavior with lame and futile actions like donating to NORML.

And here is some news for our pseudonymous hero:  Your weed may not come from Columbia, but it probably does come from the city where you are funding a culture of gangs, crime, and poverty that is supported by the sale of all kinds of illegal drugs, including marijuana.  I'm not saying you should stop smoking weed -- whatever makes you happy -- but stop pretending it makes you better than other people.  Self-righteous stoners are the most obnoxious kind.

What the hell

Doesn't anyone in higher ed administration have taste?
An indictment returned today by a Massachusetts grand jury accuses two former Tufts University administrators of separately stealing from student-activity funds, wrongfully obtaining a total of nearly $1-million, and spending the money on such items as luxury and designer goods, resort vacations, and tickets to concerts by Madonna and Celine Dion.
That was really worth risking your career? Really?

July 1, 2008

It has come to this

I actually agree with Charlotte Allen (of How Dumb Can We Get fame) about something.  I don't think I know who I am anymore.

I have tried to see it their way. I'm a gay leftist who loves to boycott things, so you would think I would agree.  But after reading several letters and documents about the controversy surrounding the American Political Science Association's decision to hold a meeting in New Orleans, I still believe the proposed boycott is silly and counterproductive.

Advocates of the boycott claim that gays and lesbians would not "feel safe" in New Orleans. But I lived in the conservative south for many years, so I have to roll my eyes when I read that these academics refuse to spend three days in a southern state -- especially in the relatively tolerant city of New Orleans.

The focus on gay rights also seems incredibly myopic in light of Katrina. Whatever injustices gays and lesbians face due to the LA constitution, the black community has faced far worse in the aftermath of Katrina. If holding a convention in a particular city is truly an endorsement of the state's economic, legal, and social policies, then there is a lot more to boycott than the treatment of gays and lesbians.

The scenario repeatedly raised by the boycotters is that someone could die in the hospital while the gay partner is denied access -- a scenario that is incredibly unlikely. Besides, anyone who is single, or leaves his or her partner at home, or travels with a friend or a significant other who is not a spouse, might also die in the hospital alone -- in any city. Yet we travel anyway because the risk of sudden fatal injury is very small, and because with non-fatal injuries and illnesses, you can make arrangements and transfers after the initial hospitalization. If three days in New Orleans is really so terrible and risky, you have to wonder why gay couples voluntarily live there for decades.

New Orleans is an important city where injustices involving issues of race, class, and sexuality have played out dramatically over the past few years. An APSA conference could be an opportunity to engage all of those issues, while giving academics an opportunity to see the city up close.  It's great if you live in cushy Massachusetts with an academic job and a legal gay marriage, but most of the country is not so lucky.  And when you won't condescend to even spend three days in the rest of America -- where black people, gay people, poor people, and homeless people spend their entire lives -- I think it's ridiculous.

So, I am stuck agreeing with Charlotte Allen.  Fuck.