Category Archives: the Radical Addresses Her Public

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 Cursive writing, she argues in this post, “is becoming an outdated skill.”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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February 2, 2011, 8:28 pm

The Ice Storm: A Few Observations About The Workings Of The University

From the upper deck of Tenured Radical.

Last week the snow day was great, a gift of 24 hours that (depending on your teaching schedule) created the equivalent of a Thanksgiving break.  Now the weather is increasingly a drag.  Despite the dangers and inconveniences of coming up to Zenith, one canceled day seems to be all the educational enterprise can sustain, and we receive messages saying that it is “our choice” whether to come to campus or not.  This often puts one in the untenable position of deciding how much of one’s personal safety is worth risking to not fall any further behind than one already is, given the difficulties of travel (or even walking down the street) in the last ten days.

In 1997, Ang Lee made a film called The Ice Storm about the emotional perils of suburban living in the 1970s.  Based on a 1994 novel by Rick Moody, the movie shows one evening in the life of two New…

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December 4, 2010, 6:44 pm

Saturday Blogging Notes: The Radical Responds To Her Mail

I imagine that many bloggers find themselves getting stuck reading the comments sections of past posts when there are other things to do:  mothers to call, articles to revise, papers to grade, and whatnot.  I’ve been resisting this distraction.  On the other hand, it is the case that a comment, or set of comments, can inspire me to thoughts that I can’t help but write up.  So here goes.

Re. My Recent Post On Skype interviews: Susan points to the advantages of the phone interview over the vagaries of Skype, and noting that each mode calls for equal focus (she also offers several good reasons to wear pants while Skyping.) I agree that focus is required for each, but that phone has its own challenges.  Interviewing committees need to remember that the candidate has no way of recognizing individual voices on a conference call, so that each person who speaks must say:  “This is Tenured Radical…

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November 20, 2010, 3:49 pm

In Case You Were Wondering: The Financial Penalties For Being Unmarried

Stigma or Pride?  Shall the Congress or the Courts Decide?

Despite the fact that I would include myself in the category of people who are utterly unmoved by the romance of gay marriage (except when I am softened by pictures of people who are moved by it), I occasionally feel pissed off about structural discrimination that awards bonuses to people who can and do marry.

Today I opened a letter from TIAA-CREF that contains an “update” to my “original contract…which states that same-sex marriages aren’t recognized under current federal tax law” because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Passed in 1996, DOMA defines marriage as a legal contract that can only be entered into by one man and one woman, and was declared unconstitutional by a federal district court last July.  It was signed into law by William Jefferson Clinton, for which (along with welfare reform and NAFTA) he will roast in…

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November 3, 2010, 12:11 pm

The Space Between Us: An Election Day Wrap-Up From A Bright Blue State

Photo credit:   Smithsonian.com

Exclusive report by Tenured Radical from the People’s Republic of Connecticut. 

Yesterday, as I was going door to door on a get out the vote effort in Zenith, I had to admit that it wasn’t much of an effort, and that it had little to do with getting out the vote.

The idea, for those of you who haven’t done election day door knocking, is this.  You have a map on which are marked likely Democratic voters in a certain region (in this case it was three long blocks just outside the strip malls that lead into Zenith and four apartment buildings embedded in those malls), and you knock on people’s doors.  If they answer, you ask them if they have voted; if they don’t answer, you put what is called a “door hanger” on the knob that has the names and pictures of all the Democratic candidates running for statewide office.  You mark down on your sheet what the outcome of …

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