Category Archives: Better Late Than Never

November 19, 2013, 1:09 pm

Burned-out, Dissenting and Staying Home: On Not Attending the ASA Annual Meeting

boyoboyI had not planned to attend this year’s American Studies Association Meeting, which is just as well. After I learned this week that a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel would be presented for discussion, I realized I need a time out from American Studies. Part of this is that the organization — which I have always loved, and still love, for its activism — has taken itself in an intellectual direction that I sometimes no longer even understand. This year’s meeting, for example, bears the theme, “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent.”

Does anyone but me look at this and say “Why does this one thing before the colon seem not to bear any relationship to the thing after the colon?” Speaking of colitis, some are getting it from next year’s CFP, which seems to deliberately mock the idea of scholarly meetings by arguing that conferences may …

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May 31, 2012, 10:20 pm

DOMA Heads To The Supreme Court, Threatening End to Civilization As We Know It (Thank The Goddess)

Today's poster boy for straight marriage, John Edwards (Photo Credit: Reuters)

As longtime readers of the Radical know, gay marriage has never been our top political priority.  Nor do we have fantasies about getting gay married. Although we are all for civil rights wherever we find them, we are more focused on policy objectives like health care, quality education for all, and full employment. However, I don’t sniff at the way structural discrimination has been partially lifted for my people under the Obama administration. For example, we are now no longer drummed out of the military through McCarthyite investigative tactics. In addition, Barack’s “evolution” on gay marriage — obscuring (or retracting) the support he voiced for it back in the 1990s, temporizing about it as a presidential candidate and as…

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March 31, 2012, 4:20 pm

Republican Policy for Higher Ed: Starve It, Bleed It — While You’re At It, Build A Football Stadium

Those of you who have friends at Rutgers University, New Jersey’s flagship R-I, know that, like many public institutions, it has had to absorb deep cuts in state funding over the past few years:  last year it lost 15% of its budget.

Those of us who have been in the position of managing cuts at the departmental and divisional level for the last few years have all kinds of stories to tell. Personnel cuts are often directed at the most vulnerable workers: remaining secretarial staff and administrative assistants have to take on more work; food, sanitation and maintenance services get “outsourced” to for-profit companies; and the adjunct teaching force is cut (see how flexible it is to hire faculty by the course?  Milton Friedman told you this was a good idea!) Best case scenario for all non-administrative staff is that positions vacated through retirement or other voluntary means (this…

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January 25, 2012, 4:52 pm

Slouching Toward Joan Didion

I know that, as a feminist, I am not supposed to like Caitlin Flanagan because she has made gender essentialism fashionable again.  But honestly?  I don’t think this makes her a bad person.  She is an intellectual who has a keen eye for the role the gender binary plays in our culture, and then — her flaw is that sometimes she stops there when she should push a little harder.    When she does go for the take down, she is ruthless in ways I appreciate and admire.

I first encountered Flanagan (before I knew I wasn’t supposed to like her) when she published “The Price of Paradise” in The New Yorker (January 3 2005).  This is a priceless piece about the horrors of resort-style family vacations designed for couples who have little children. It’s an article that (more…)

January 20, 2012, 6:40 pm

When In Transition, You Can Use the Washing Machine as an Extra Closet

Changing jobs has reminded me that there are lots of things I am not good at.  I am obviously a good enough scholar to get another job, which is nice. I am also a good ordinary housekeeper: I cook (well); I do laundry (frequently); I cut the grass just often enough that we don’t have to make haystacks out of it afterwards; I would rather make the bed than not (and view a well-made bed as the key to an orderly frame of mind); I dash out to shovel snow before someone falls and sues the bejesus out of us; I manage to take (my) car in for regular maintenance; I get my teeth cleaned twice a year; and I occasionally whirl through my study and to put it into spic and span order after I complete the writing projects that cause it turn into a Salvation Army bargain bin. (more…)

May 14, 2010, 12:19 pm

Ova There! Ova There! Send The Word, Send The Word, Ova There!

After reading a critical piece in the New York Times about the booming market in Ivy League ova earlier in the week, Radical Correspondent Oklahoma Annie writes that she was “incensed” by it:

What’s going on, in summary, is this: Agencies who traffic in human ova are seeking the highest achieving young women from top universities as donors, and are offering them upwards of $10,000 to donate their eggs.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which set the $10,000 cap on payments in its guidelines, is now “concerned” that young women may be lured by excessively high payments to become donors “against their own best interests.”

Now, excuse me, but we’re talking about the top percentile, crème de la crème of American elite universities, and we’re afraid they won’t be able to make informed decisions about their own health and finances?

Well, OK, so we’re also…

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November 22, 2009, 11:21 am

Ask the Radical: Blogging and The Untenured Academic

Leaving the country often has the happy effect that people stop sending email to me almost entirely. Why sabbatical doesn’t accomplish this I do not know, particularly given the vivid bounce-back I composed this time around. Only the chair of my department removed my from the distribution list in September, but I am pleased/dismayed to see that now everyone else has too. Perhaps while I was still state side some secret hope was cherished by many colleagues that I would, in fact, come to advertised meetings of various kinds? If so, I am happy to say that they have not taking to dashing their brains on the flagstones in despair that their coy invitations have gone unanswered.

Since arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, the most sustained correspondence I have had to date is with a group of very capable people who are taking care of my affairs (dog and house) while I am away. We have…

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