Category Archives: the Radical testifies

June 3, 2012, 11:25 am

Pop Go The Weasels: Extreme Journalism and the Sugar Wars

Just eat the sugar cubes and see how that feels. Photo credit: Reuters

“Just how far would a government go to protect us from ourselves?” asks Adam Geller of the HuffPo (June 1 2012).

If you are thinking, say, the death penalty for gays and lesbians (Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — all US allies and key oil producing nations – have such laws on the books) you are wrong. The government could use its limitless power to keep us from drinking 64 ounces of soda in one big gulp, rather than 16 ounces at a time so that we could check in with ourselves, between drinks, to see if we are still hungry.

As Barry Goldwater once said, as he was pounding a Sprite, Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.

Citing the Bloomberg administration’s successful bans on smoking in public parks …

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February 11, 2012, 2:27 pm

On the Satisfactions of Editing a Book Series

Lately my Facebook friends are very aware that I have become a co-editor (with Renee Romano of Oberlin College) of a book series at the University of Georgia Press, Since 1970:  Histories of Contemporary America. Friends (and “friends”) are getting barraged daily with little items from the new author page I set up  last week for Since 1970:  Histories of Contemporary America.  Want to like our page?  Go here. Want to order the first book in the series, J. Brooks Flippen’s Jimmy Carter, the Politics of Family, and the Rise of the Religious Right? Go here. Want to pre-order Renee’s and my new edited collection, Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back? (Of course you do: go here.)

See, you just started reading and already I have given you the opportunity to order two great books!  Now…

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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…)

October 17, 2011, 2:29 pm

What Constitutes Resistance? Occupying A Small Place

On Saturday, the Radical interrupted what might charitably be called a seven day grade-a-palooza to attend one of the 1500 events that have spun off around the globe from Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park.  Earlier in the week, our neighborhood Blockwatch (which tends to focus its efforts on baking cookies for our “friends” the police and reminds us to watch out for African-American people who, organizers imagine, live elsewhere and drop by to steal white people’s $hit) sent out a portentous message that the demo was expected to be massive. The po-po, they warned, would be using our neighborhood as a “staging area” and we should avoid downtown. (more…)

October 6, 2011, 5:12 pm

Ask The Radical: Are You Clocking Too Much Overtime?

As we were sorting our mail at the end of a long teaching week, we came upon a little cry for help.  Missouri Marv writes:

Dear Tenured Radical:

It was my dream to get a tenure-track job.  However, I am only in my second year in a humanities department and my dream has become a nightmare. The semester is not even half over and I am exhausted.  My classes are over enrolled by about fifteen students. I am behind on my grading:  last week my students asked when they would get their papers back and I heard myself saying that I had left them on a bus and that the Transit Authority Lost and Found was closed for Rosh Hashanah. I barely have time to review the reading I have assigned my students.  Confession? Sometimes I don’t even read it.

Every time I think I have protected a little free time someone schedules a meeting:  worse, our university now uses Meeting Maker, so I get a…

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August 11, 2011, 1:26 pm

Stick To The Foghorn, Rush: Or; Right-Wing Radio School For Aspiring Black Newsmen

By cheerful happenstance I had a few empty minutes last night prior to The NewsHour. (Al Qaeda?  If you ever want to cripple the nation’s intellectual class, consider hitting living rooms in Cambridge, New Haven, Providence and Philadelphia at 7:00 EST!)  I clicked over to MSNBC, where the Reverend Al Sharpton was delivering a personal message to Rush Limbaugh about the possibility that the Cenk Uygur show (where Sharpton has been guest hosting as the network determines Cenk’s fate) has a racist teleprompter.  WTF? I said to myself, which is professional blogger-speak for “Sounds like a post to me!”

July 29, 2011, 1:16 pm

Tenured Folk: Is It Safe To Go Back On The Job Market?

Are you chum and the job market the Big White One?

In the case of the Tenured Radical, I think we can say:  most definitely yes.  After two years on the job market, I recently accepted an offer of a tenured faculty position at rank. While I have not yet entirely digested the experience, I have a few reflections on it in the event that you too are thinking about going on the market as a senior person.

I know, I know.  All of my advice is supposed to be for the nontenured or the jobless.  But senior people have dreams too, don’t they?  So after years of telling other people what to do, I put some of my own advice into practice.


July 6, 2011, 5:37 pm

What If Thinking About Education As A Business Were A Good Thing?

The Nation had a recent, and very provocative, issue organized around the theme “Re-imagining Capitalism:  Bold Ideas for a New Economy.” Assuming that the revolution is not on its way as we speak, the authors argue for the restructuring of capitalism to provide the prosperity that free-market theory (as practiced across the political spectrum) has made an even more distant dream.  These articles are worth a read, particularly since they break into old dichotomies to demonstrate how a more humane economy might also be a stronger one:  the series features employee-owned industries as opposed to the euphemistic “small businesses” politicians love to talk about; government as a guaranteed employer of last resort rather than as a workfare overseer; and reforms of liability law are but a few of the ideas about how we might balance the profit motive with a more even distribution of…

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May 4, 2011, 12:21 pm

What’s In Your Pocket? A Graduation Guide For Living In The Age Of Debt

A few weeks ago, one of my friends was sorting a box of stuff that had gotten thrown into the garage prior to a kitchen renovation years ago.  She found an historical artifact that she swears she is going to send me for a future lecture on the recent economic meltdown.  It is a flier from one of those advertising mailers that usually has coupons for a few things you really want (like laundry soap), as well as ads for a few local gardening centers and siding contractors.  This particular ad was for Countrywide Financial, one of the lenders whose dishonest practices figured prominently in the home loan bubble.  Countrywide offered to refinance her home if she just filled out the coupon and sent it back, no credit check required.  “Imagine!” she said to me, as if she had found a poodle skirt in the closet. “Refinancing your home through an advertising mailer!”

But that was exactly how it…

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March 26, 2011, 11:44 am

Because We Are All Bill Cronon: An Open Letter To Our Colleague In Madison

Where is this clause in the constitution?

Dear Bill:

Welcome to the blogosphere!  I like the design of Scholar as Citizen, and frankly, I’m also happy to have another age peer in the house.  Although I’ve never had a whole political party go after me (very impressive, dude!), I did suffer an attack from a fellow historian and his followers that had its hair-raising moments. 

I didn’t get the death threats on my voice mail that an untenured colleague at a prestigious flagship received from the Sunshine Band.  However, I got plenty of hate mail, as well as copies of numerous emails sent to Zenith’s president, members of the history department, and the board of trustees.  These various communications, and numerous letters, all called for my termination — something that was, of course, impossible, since I already had tenure. It wasn’t covered in the national media, but it was ugly all the same…

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