Category Archives: the Radical Addresses Her Public

April 10, 2014, 5:54 pm

General Radical Marches on Atlanta; or, Fun @ The OAH Annual Meeting

2014-Program_150pxAir travel and conferencing can have the effect of making me feel as though I am not really anywhere at all. I certainly believe that I have been in nearly every major hotel, in nearly every major city, for at least one conference. Usually more than once. The last time I was in this one, the Atlanta Hilton, it was January, 1996, and the worst snowstorm ever to descend on the South (until this winter) created all kinds of havoc from Georgia up to Albany, New York. Some of us who remember that AHA Annual meeting managed to escape Atlanta, only to get stuck half-way home in dreary motels in Charlotte. Some Zenith friends of mine made it as far as Hartford, and then got stuck in the airport motel there; others rented cars and tried to drive home. Those who stuck it out at the Atlanta Hilton were the smart ones, since they did not get stuck in someplace even less desirable (like the Amtrak go…

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May 29, 2013, 1:52 pm

Homophobia at Harvard and Other Hideous Horrors

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In the intellectual spirit of the man himself, let me ask a counterfactual: why have so many people temporarily abandoned longstanding critiques of Niall Ferguson in favor of condemning him as a homophobe?

My guess is that Ferguson is not a homophobe, at least not in the conventional sense of wanting to exclude gay men from work and public life because they are gay, or not wanting his son to marry one. Having been educated at Oxford, where, according to his Wikipedia entry, he became dear friends with right-wing queer Andrew Sullivan, I can’t quite imagine that Ferguson is uncomfortable with white, gay men like John Maynard Keynes either.  I mean Oxford’s intellectual history is as gay as it gets, right? (more…)

April 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

On the Giving and Taking of Advice

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The mother of us all: Pauline Friedman Phillips, aka Abigail “Dear Abby” van Buren

Ten years ago, in the midst of a conversation, a colleague temporarily lost her temper at me. “Please stop giving me advice!” she snapped. “I don’t want any advice. I just want to talk about this!”

Needless to say, I was shocked and a little hurt. But upon further reflection, I had to admit that a flaw in my socialization had been usefully uncovered.  My friend had not asked for any advice, and yet I had offered it anyway. Why?

The giving and taking of advice is so ubiquitous in university life that it defines whole categories of activity that blur the line between personal and professional. In graduate school, members of my cohort gave each other advice, and it was often at least as good as the advice we got from faculty. …

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September 1, 2012, 10:23 am

Tenured Radical’s New Media Adventures

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a new Huffington Post feature called HuffPost Live. My segment — on marriage equality — was hosted by Janet Varney, who once had a part on one of my all-time favorite shows, Entourage (2004-2011).

I can’t figure out how to embed the video (perhaps because it is unembeddable?) but you can access Tenured Radical discussing the question of whether the government ought to get out of the business of marriage altogether here.

As you can see if you click on the link, it’s a web broadcast with a live chat feature on the right. There is a central studio in Los Angeles, where they sometimes have sit down guests: our feature was done via a Google+ Hangout, a video chat feature that allows up to nine people to join a conversation.

One obvious feature of doing a digital media event — aside from the fact that it is fun — is that in a …

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July 11, 2012, 3:00 pm

Writing By Hand: the Lost Art

Today the Tenured Radical is feeling like the Tenured Crank, and not just because of the summer cold that has taken up temporary residence between her vacationing ears.

Over at HASTAC, where there are always a ton of great ideas for the digitally inclined, writing prof Teresa Narey highlights the question of whether young people will continue to learn handwriting skills. Given the shift to using computers in secondary school, and curricula geared to a techie world, will subsequent generations even need to learn to write legibly? Cursive writing, she argues in this post, “is becoming an outdated skill.”

Secondary schools are apparently divided on this issue: some still teach handwriting and some do not. Some schools teach handwriting out of tradition, without any real conviction that it is a skill worth having. “Contrastingly,” Narey writes, “many Catholic schools continue to make…

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May 28, 2012, 6:17 pm

Is Facebook Worth The Trouble?

Yesterday around midday I discovered that I could no longer post status updates to my Facebook page.  This was no big deal, and would have represented the elimination of a major weekend time-suck, except for one thing.  I couldn’t figure out why this was happening, which sets off a little alarm in my brain that Something Might Be Wrong, Something That Might Represent A Bigger Problem.

I don’t worry about being hacked.  On the other hand, I never worried about identity theft until my debit card was canceled because someone managed to duplicate it at a gas pump that had been bent to this purpose in West Philadelphia: the next day I went out and bought a shredder. Similarly, before now, despite legendarily sloppy password use for many years, I have never been hacked.  And yet, I thought uneasily as I fiddled with a Facebook that was behaving strangely, there’s always a first time.

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April 17, 2012, 11:16 am

When Is Competition a Positive Force?

Thomas Eakins, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Yesterday morning I was gliding down the river in my single scull. I was ten to fifteen minutes from the dock, workout complete, leg muscles burning slightly, warming down and starting to think about the rest of the day. After I navigated the last turn, a long bend that can make you or break you in the annual 3.5 mile race our rowing club hosts in October, it would be a straight shot back to the boat house.

Then I noticed another sculler on my port side: I was about a half length ahead.

I don’t wear my glasses on the water (more than one rower has sent an $800 pair of specs to the bottom of the river) so I identify others by how they row and the color of their boats. It was Jackson, a 70-something masters’ rower who…

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November 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

Radical Thanksgiving II: the Top Ten Turkeys for 2011

Back in 2007 I gave out awards to institutions and individuals in education who had gone above and beyond the call of duty to make turkeys out of themselves during that calendar year.  At the time, I imagined that this would be an annual event.  What was I thinking?  That the Tenured Radical blog would collapse and I would never have to write such a long post again?  That I would give up academia for a well-paid job as a writer for Rachel Maddow?

I dunno.  But four years later, here we are at the Chronicle of Higher Education feeling inspired by the year’s hijinks. The task of giving awards is also less burdensome than you might imagine: after all, while every year in education has its turkeys, consistency would require that we only do this again in 2015.  So with that, we will start with Turkey #10 and proceed to the Big Turkey in the #1 spot (as I write, the committee is…

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July 12, 2011, 12:59 pm

Higher Education, Republican-Style: Minnesota Vets Lose Grants But Allowed To Take Out Loans During Budget Debacle

Minnesota legislators take a break while students languish

We at Tenured Radical are still vacationing on a lake in Northern Minnesota, a state where the Republican-dominated legislature, in all its wisdom, decided to shut down state government over a $5 billion budget gap rather than raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest citizens. This means that the vast majority of Minnesotans who cannot afford to rent a private house or book a room in a lodge, and who usually take advantage of the state’s wonderful park system to hunt, fish, canoe and camp on a working person’s budget, found themselves home over the July 4 weekend baking in 90 degree heat.  I am an out-of-stater, but I do hope all Minnesota voters, whether they are enrolled in college or not, remember how much fun they had on their three-day federal…

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June 13, 2011, 2:13 pm

On Political Conversation, Or The Lack Thereof: A Provocation To Debate

“Balogna?”  Really?  Photo Credit.

On the op-ed page of today’s Grey Lady, liberal Paul Krugman explains why expanding Medicare will save money.  On the other side of the page, Ross Douthat explains why text messaging pictures of your muscle-y male chest and your d*ck to women who don’t want them should disqualify you from sitting in Congress.  Want to know why without reading the article?  Not because it is sexual harassment, but because it is evidence of narcissism.  Whoa, male politicians!  No reason to resign en masse!

My point is not that Ross Douthat is a faux intellectual (which he is), or that the importance of Weiner’s behavior does not extend beyond the playground sausage jokes of which otherwise sentient adults do not seem to tire.  My point is:  why didn’t Ross Douthat write about the conservative argument behind cutting Medicare and explain to us why making Medicare less…

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