Category Archives: the Horror

March 6, 2012, 11:37 am

The Gospel of the Toothbrush; Or, How Many Teeth Does Your Child Have (Left)?

Just when you thought that middle-class parents had reached the limits of ignorance, the New York Times reports today that children under the age of five are showing up at the dentist’s office with a dozen or so cavities.  Some need the kind of extensive repair that is usually characteristic of people my age. One little darling featured in the story had 22 cavities, and was due for a root canal — at the age of two and a half years.  Go read it here.

My first thought was, well, these are probably parents working 3-5 jobs between them: things like toothbrushing just fall through the cracks as Mom and Dad pass each other in the hall like ghosts between day shift, night shift and swing shift.  But apparently not. The kid with the root canal?  Mom is described as a homemaker and Dad is in IT. Homemaker is not an easy career, I’ll grant you, which is a reason I checked the “historian” …

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December 19, 2011, 1:05 pm

History and the Politics of Scholarly Collaboration, Part I: Or, Why Anthony Grafton Is a Rock Star

Meet Anthony Grafton, the AHA's Jonathan Swift

Have you followed American Historical Association president Anthony Grafton’s serial meditation on how graduate schools might respond to a bad academic job market? A market that has, since the the 1970s, been either stagnant or getting worse? A market with whose effects the blogosphere is obsessed?

If you haven’t, you need to catch up.  For “No More Plan B” (October 2011) and “Plan C” (November 2011), both co-written with Jim Grossman for the AHA newsletter Perspectives, go here and here. For an article about “Plan B” by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed (October 3 2011) go here; and for a response by graduate student Dan Alloso (UMass-Amherst) go here. (more…)

November 27, 2011, 11:29 am

Even More Annals of the Great Depression: A Job Market Carnival

It’s the last day of Thanksgiving break, which means the job season (for what it is worth) is about to go into high gear. Longtime Readers of the Radical will recall that one of my early posting categories was the job market (tag lines also include “the job fairy,” “the job fairy is not smiling” and “the job fairy is smiling.”) When I began this blog, it is quite possible that I had served on and/or chaired more searches than almost anyone my age. (more…)

June 2, 2011, 3:07 pm

As The Department Turns: What Causes Conflict, Drama And Other Energy Sapping Dynamics

Things can explode when you least expect it!

 This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education features a blog post by David Perlmutter entitled “It’s Not Your Fault.”  Aimed mostly at helping assistant professors and graduate students understand how they might have unintentionally become the target of a senior person’s anger or jealousy, Perlmutter explores six factors that might cause unwelcome behaviors by senior people.  While it is sometimes the case that a younger person’s actions might have provoked the incident or ongoing dynamic, it is also likely that it didn’t. The project of figuring out what went wrong can be just as agonizing for a younger person as the reprisals and criticisms themselves. 

As Perlmutter notes wisely, “sometimes the quickest relief comes from merely figuring out that a single tussle or a longstanding feud is not your fault but rather originates in the minds,…

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January 11, 2011, 5:06 pm

If I Could Stick My Pen In My Heart/And Spill It All Over the Stage: Teaching Evaluations

If I could win ya, if I could sing ya
A love song so divine
Would it be enough for your cheating heart
If I broke down and cried? If I cried?
“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1974
In the past week or so, as many of us have been putting together classes for the new semester, teaching evaluations have arrived.  I suspect they arrive electronically at most places now, as that is substantially cheaper for the institution. At Zenith we switched over from a paper system, where students filled them out together in one of the final classes, to an online one in which they fill them out alone and receive access to their grade for the course only after having done so. Like everyone else, students are bowling alone.
But I like it, like it, yes I do.  Photo credit.
I have thought for years that fall teaching evaluations, received as the promise of the new spring…

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December 16, 2010, 2:16 pm

It’s A Poor Sort Of Memory That Only Works Backwards; Or, New (Old) Thoughts About Tenure

Alice Ad-dressing the White Queen.

`You’re wrong there, at any rate,’ said the Queen: `were you ever punished?’

`Only for faults,’ said Alice.

`And you were all the better for it, I know!’ the Queen said triumphantly.

`Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,’ said Alice: `that makes all the difference.’

`But if you hadn’t done them,’ the Queen said, `that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!’ Her voice went higher with each `better,’ till it got quite to a squeak at last.

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (And What Alice Found There) (1871)

Paul Caron over at Tax Prof Blog reports that a new study “conducted under the auspices of the American Bar Foundation with additional funding from the Law School Admission Council” finds that “the perceptions of female tenured faculty members and tenured faculty of color” about the granting of tenure in law…

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October 28, 2010, 7:18 pm

Department Of Economics III: The Latest On Salaries And Benefits

We at Tenured Radical are starting to collate some interesting information from this week’s posts on faculty salaries.  Crunch the data yourself, but a few facts are revealing themselves:

The phrase “academic job market” does not describe an actual market.  Rather, it describes a frozen employment sector where a fair number of people who are fully employed are hanging on for dear life.  Only one commenter, Squadratomagico (who in addition to being a college professor also performs in a small circus, which I have always thought was interesting), is unperturbed by this situation.  You can read about her reasons, many of which I respect, particularly since she really doesn’t seem to care about money. The only point in this post that I disagree with completely is that paying faculty a low wage is alright because “Higher education is a not-for-profit enterprise.”  Such logic suggests that no …

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August 3, 2010, 2:01 pm

The Seductions Of Sedan Delivery; Or, Writing Your Own Academic Job Description


It’s difficult to think about it while we still have three to four precious weeks of summer left. But on behalf of all the people who will begin full time teaching in the fall, I ask you to conjure — for a second — a week in mid-semester. Feel the pain as you stay up half the night to grade your papers! Experience the fear as you go into class half prepared! Recall being fatally short of sleep as you sit, dazed, through yet another search committee meeting, having driven yourself unsparingly through 100 applicant files the day before! Conjure the self-righteousness and hypocrisy, as you lecture yet another student that s/he could get hir work in on time if only s/he would get organized!

Yeah, baby. The problem is, there is almost no one I know in academia who has a job description that would give them a reasonable sense of where a professor’s job begins and ends. Couple this …

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November 6, 2009, 1:10 am

And If You Give Us A Full Book Of Green Stamps, You Can Teach Macroeconomics

These noble bloggers provided the second notification of the evening that Patricia Turner, vice provost for the University of California Office of Undergraduate Studies (and henchman Winder McConnell, the director of teaching resources for that floundering institution) have a great new idea: get people to teach for free. The first time I saw this news on Facebook I wouldn’t have believed it, except that the source was impeccable. According to the online edition of The California Aggie, freshman seminar instructors all received a letter asking them whether they would be willing to forgo the small sum they are paid for this work, $1500-2000 that is normally deposited in their research accounts. “Though Turner could not predict how much money the salary reduction would save,” staff writer Lauren Steussy reports, “she stated that approximately 25 instructors agreed to forgo or reduce…

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October 21, 2009, 6:49 pm

Here’s A Place To Begin Reforming Health Care: A Letter To My (Former) Primary Care Physician


Dear Dr. PCP,

I called your office this morning at 9 a.m. because I realized this morning that a cold I had yesterday had triggered an asthma attack. I am currently on maintenance medications for asthma (Singulair and Zyrtec), which means I am almost never actively asthmatic. The corollary to this is that when an asthma attack commences I know that the situation is potentially serious, and I explained this to the woman who answered the telephone at your office. I asked for a prescription refill for an albuterol inhaler and an Azmacort inhaler, and told the administrator that my history of asthma, and the drugs I have been prescribed in the past (including these) could be found in my file. This is what followed:

I offered to come in to the office if a doctor wished to see me before refilling my prescriptions.

The administrator said that you were out of the office, but that there was an…

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