Category Archives: Just the facts

March 25, 2014, 1:45 pm

Why the Adjunct System Hurts Students

tee-rhrI left Zenith University a little over two years ago, but every once in a while one of my former students hunts me down for a recommendation. Fortunately, I actually kept a lot of those letters I wrote, so in most cases it doesn’t take more than a nip and a tuck to bring one up to speed: “Since graduating with high honors in history, Jason has worked for SEIU and interned at the Smithsonian…..) I don’t mind, even though I now have new students to write for. Zenith paid me well over the years (ok, not always as well as I wanted, but still.) I think writing recommendations for former students is part of some cosmic bargain hammered out over twenty years of tears and snot, to paraphrase Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, even though I now work somewhere else.

But if I had been an adjunct there? No way. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who taught at Zenith — as a post-doc…

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November 23, 2013, 12:29 pm

Srsly? Notes on Social Media, #2013ASA

barack-obama-laughingYou may have received something on Facebook today, as well as on Twitter, floating the accusation that my opposition to the academic boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of #2013ASA is a sham. This opposition is, the messages claims, only an excuse for me to continue an unhealthy and longstanding obsession with a prominent member of the American Studies Association.

This person, it is alleged, was once my friend, but broke off that friendship for unnamed reasons (because I am a psychotic lesbian? Because I have bad politics? Because I am wardrobe challenged? We are taking suggestions in the comments section.) The tweet mentions that this person has blocked me on every electronic media possible, inferring that I have been an e-stalker in the past, and have taken up this deviant behavior again, this time strategizing my cyber-terror through time-consuming…

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March 16, 2013, 1:07 pm

The Custom of the Country: Investigating Email @Harvard.Edu

harvard-logo-jpg-180One of the downsides to being Harvard University is that everything you do is publicized as if no one else has ever done it.

Take the undergraduate cheating scandal, that led to the investigation of the cheating scandal, that led to a lot of students being asked to either take a leave to think about their sins or get the hell out of Dodge for good. Students (and proffies!) cheat at lots of institutions, but when it happens at Harvard it seems to be particularly news-worthy.

Why is this? Well, here’s a parallel example. When Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, daughter of Irish activist rocker Sir Bob “I Don’t Like Mondays” Geldof, was picked up for shoplifting cosmetics last summer (and not for the first time either) it was commented on extensively; the same crimes committed every day by Joe Blow from Kokomo command very little attention. We expect Joe to shoplift: he’s a witless…

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March 14, 2013, 4:12 pm

Looking for the Women on Wikipedia: Readers Respond


The Sisters of Selma Photo Credit

This post about Wikipedia’s woman problem drew a bunch of great comments, some with links to resources. It also fed into an epic flurry of announcements from Twitterati about events in the next two weeks where feminists of all genders are gathering, IRL and online, to make inroads on the He-Man Boys Club Encyclopedia. You might want to go into my Twitter feed to look for one near you.

I did want to lift one comment into this post because I thought it was so interesting. @kosboot writes:

One major, major point that Claire Potter does not mention (I feel it almost invalidates her article) is to remember that Wikipedia is a social network.  If you’re invited over to someone’s house, do you immediately help yourself to food and start changing the furniture?  No of course not -…

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January 20, 2013, 6:02 pm

If Tenured Radical Were Oprah: What I Would Have Asked Lance

Cheaters never prosper. Photo credit.

Now it can be said: I have been a long-term Lance Armstrong skeptic, for one simple reason. Any woman who has gone through menopause, and does not do hormone replacement therapy (HRT), will tell you that the physical changes are dramatic, even for someone who trains seriously. The changes are equally dramatic should you initiate HRT after deciding you don’t wish to live with loss of physical strength and stamina: you puff up like a lovely little balloon, your skin becomes elastic, your energy returns, and your muscle mass increases dramatically.

So I was quite sure that Lance, who had lost a significant portion of his capacity to make testosterone after having a testicle removed, and who returned at a relatively advanced age to dominate an endurance sport, was juicing. I…

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September 23, 2012, 11:53 am

An Eskimo in Egypt-land

O’Donoghue, who refused to write an SNL sketch for the Muppets: “I won’t write for felt.”

Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Finney Boylan, Professor of English at Colby College. She is the author of twelve books, including the Falcon Quinn series for young adults and the memoir trilogy She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (2003), I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted (2008) and Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders (forthcoming in 2013). 

Comedian Michael O’Donoghue once wrote a poem that began, “A blizzard blew an Eskimo way down to Egypt-land. He found they had no word for snow, and he no word for sand.” The poem goes on to describe the Egyptian and the Eskimo’s search for a common language, “the thing that each man shares.”

O’Donoghue was, of course, better known…

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April 26, 2012, 2:42 pm

Histories of Kennedy Love: A Book Review

JFK and JFK, Jr. in the Oval Office (AP Photo/Look Magazine, Stanley Tretick)

Christina Haag, Come to the Edge: A Memoir (New York:  Spiegel & Grau, 2011).

Mimi Alford, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath (New York: Random House, 2012).

It will be no surprise to even the uneducated reader that the Kennedy family occupies an entire cultural market niche all by itself.  The Library of Congress lists over 400 John F. Kennedy items in its holdings. You can add to this number: books by and about Bobby, Ted and the other siblings; about the generations that preceded the three political brothers; about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her children (there are over 300 LOC items about John Jr. and 93 by and about the far more productive and well-educated…

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February 24, 2012, 9:20 am

Margaret Thatcher Naked On A Cold Day! Or, The Austin Powers Theory of Academic Interviewing

We at Tenured Radical have been reminded lately that the higher education industrial complex is well into flyback season.  So this post carries a warning for those of you criss-crossing the country to interview for tenure-track jobs and residential postdocs:

The people who are interviewing you are Fembots. Or at least they should be.  Let me explain.

A conversation with someone who had just had a great time visiting a potential employer reminded me that, over the course of my life, I have had at least six flybacks and I have been on the hiring side of countless other searches.  Prior to my first campus interview ever (the one where I was driving up the West Side Highway before I realized I had left my interview clothes on a hanger in my bedroom), my Good Enough Dissertation Advisor gave me sage advice.  ”Remember that it is their job to recruit you, Radical:  if they do their …

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November 2, 2011, 9:56 am

Q: Can You Be A Sexual Harasser and Still Be President of the United States?

I have to give you the short answer, because my internet is still in and out due to the Halloween Nor’easter:

You betcha.

For all the women who wanted to have sex with the prez pictured at left, how many do you think pushed away a groping hand? Or went along for the ride, whether they wanted to or not, at a moment in history when any man could have a job for which a more skilled and intelligent woman would not even be interviewed? At a time when one of the best political jobs most women could hope for was running Jackie’s schedule? (more…)

October 2, 2011, 7:35 pm

Oh Brave New World That Has Such People in It! A Long-Delayed, and Appreciative, Response to Historiann

Dear Cow Girl,

I recently got a Burr under my saddle — you know, one of those things that pops up on Google Reader that lets you know that Someone’s Talking.  The Burr reminded me that you are long overdue for a response to your post about the implications of my transition to the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I don’t have much of an excuse for delaying this long except that the beginning of the teevee season, packing my $hitte for the move to a new jobbe, and a course overload seems to be getting in the way of holding up my end of the blogosphere. (more…)