August 8, 2012, 11:25 am
11. “Have you ever wondered about the stupidity of the term ‘o’clock’? Americans have happily incorporated into our everyday speech a term that makes us sound like leprechauns.” Gene Weingarten, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The Washington Post, from The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death.
12. Voice-mail prompt: “After the tone please leave your I.Q. or your blood pressure, whichever is higher.” Lewis Frumkes, author of How To Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children.
13. On health foods: “To strengthen their argument [about eating unprocessed foods] they tell you that peasant boys in Cuba, those kids out in the fields, eat raw sugar cane and they have perfect teeth. What they don’t tell you is that they develop rickets. ‘Look at me, Ma! No cavities! But I can’t walk too straight.’…After you eat all this, you can wash it down with tiger’s milk. So help me…
August 1, 2012, 2:15 pm
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
As you may well not have heard on your corporate nightly news, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been near-paralyzed by years of Republican dirty tricks leading to resignations and scandal that included frequent leaking of confidential board proceedings to former Republican board members advising the Romney camp. With the Department of Justice eyeballing the corporate hacks in question, however, the NLRB may finally be set to address academic labor issues.
Several of the regional NLRB panels have already decided core higher ed cases; just last month a federal judge spanked Chicago’s Columbia College for interfering with faculty union activities, ordering them to the bargaining table, posthaste.
Evidently the national NLRB plans to make up for lost time. Over the next few…
July 22, 2012, 12:14 pm
Over at The Baffler, Steve Almond writes that those of us who think The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are comedic genius are just not smart enough to understand that they’re not that funny. According to Almond, the fact that so many of us revere Stewart and Colbert is
not evidence of a world gone mad so much as an audience gone to lard morally, ignorant of the comic impulse’s more radical virtues. Over the past decade, political humor has proliferated not as a daring form of social commentary, but a reliable profit source. Our high-tech jesters serve as smirking adjuncts to the dysfunctional institutions of modern media and politics, from which all their routines derive. Their net effect is almost entirely therapeutic: they congratulate viewers for their fine habits of thought and feeling while remaining careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too…
June 28, 2012, 12:53 pm
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate, the anchor of the law, which drew the most scrutiny. Writing for the majority, in NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS v. SEBELIUS, Justice Roberts opined that the law is constitutional under Congress’ taxing authority. In a 5-4 decision, Roberts upheld Barack Obama’s signature achievement. The full text of the decision is here.
The decision is a victory for Barack Obama and members of Congress who enacted the law. However, this decision is also a victory for Roberts, who vindicates the court as a place where deeply partisan issues can be carefully evaluated and decided on legal principles. Commentators who were convinced that Justice Kennedy would be the swing vote miscalculated Roberts–at least on this issue.
This decision comes two years after…
June 28, 2012, 10:38 am
Recently, I posted a column about the decidedly pernicious vitriol against the Obama family, targeting not only the President, but even his children with racialized death threats (to kill his “monkey” children). Some responses to the column offered provocative, insightful comments. Yet, others succumbed to the reductive, which underscored the message behind the post. As one law professor told me, “It becomes clear from reading the comments that some Americans become very defensive about the frequency and entrenchment of racial biases without understanding what racism means.”
Beyond the racial polemic, we should all be concerned about becoming a nation that is so adrift from bipartisanship that recently even Jeb Bush came under attack for pointing it out.
Jeb’s advise on immigration: “Don’t just talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled…
June 25, 2012, 6:39 pm
I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all it was you and me.
UVa’s board of trustees (“Visitors”) are widely rumored to be considering reinstalling not-quite-ousted President Teresa A. Sullivan after a three-week public-relations debacle that has Sullivan staggering under all the white hats and halos, and the Visitors themselves painted in shades of black (their chair, Helen Dragas, playing Mistress of the Dark Arts). As soon as the Visitors announced the vote of reconsideration, the normally critical Siva Vaidhyanathan cheered “We Won!” to his Facebook friends.
But if Sullivan remains, what has been won, by whom? Sure, defeating a fast-restructuring board is unquestionably a win. Getting press coverage of the laughable charade that is “shared governance” is a win. But if UVa’s faculty, alumni, students and staff end with reinstalling Sullivan, they’ve chalked up a…
June 5, 2012, 4:37 pm
(Flickr/CC photo by Ricardo Liberato)
Today I am angry about everything. I started off the day by getting mad at myself. I forgot to put gas in the car yesterday, which meant that I need to go to the service station, which meant I’d be late for my first meeting.
I’m mad at the foolish woman I was yesterday who didn’t plan for the efficient and considerate woman that I woke up as today. I’d like to go back and yell at me. (When this wish to tell myself off in different voices becomes too frequent, I’m going to book into the Sybil School of Behavioral and Chemical Therapy).
I’m mad at my husband. I come home after getting a $50 haircut that, I was assured, makes me look glamorous, thin, sophisticated and adorable. My husband greets me not with adoration, but with the less than glamorous and…
June 5, 2012, 3:27 pm
Cary Nelson completes his third consecutive term as AAUP president next week. No one serving in that role has accomplished so much with so little against a mountain of obstacles that would have sent weaker personalities scurrying back to their carrels and laboratory benches. During his tenure, he averted near-certain financial collapse, calmed near-annual rebellions from the union affiliates, appeased traditionalists, weathered the unionization of the staff, oversaw the departure of two general secretaries, rode out nearly-continuous irrational litigation, renovated an appallingly dysfunctional membership operation, herded the cats of Committee A, and brought communications to the very brink of modernization.
He never gave up on his efforts to refashion the organization into an institution…
June 4, 2012, 10:16 am
I can’t say I understand the lyrics of the recently released video “No Church in the Wild,” but the video pulsates, and what it pulsates to is the allure of riots, riot police, and Molotov cocktails. This is no clunky fringe production by some black bloc kid crashing out of middle school to make a name for himself with a big bang, but an arresting co-production by two of the gargantuan names in hip-hop, Jay-Z and Kanye West, along with Frank Ocean. It’s accrued 3,349,000 views at this writing.
I doubt it’s the lyrics that bring in all those eyeballs. The phrases skitter around like mosquitoes: something about Socrates, something about Jesus, something about lying priests and unbelievers, something about a new religion. There’s cocaine, monogamy, jungle fever. Interpret away, hermeneutics buffs. But the video, directed by Romain Gavras, son of the Greek film director…
May 29, 2012, 9:28 am
Last week I posted the first half of my interview with Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, the director of the Pharmed Out project at Georgetown University Medical Center, which will be holding its 3rd annual conference on June 14-15. At the end of Part 1, we were discussing the need for informed consent in medical school when attending physicians remove the souls of medical students. We’ll pick up the conversation from there.
Can you think of any particularly bad moments that seem emblematic to you?
The interns discussing how we envied patients because they were lying in bed and eating and watching TV. It’s terrible looking back on how distorted our thinking was. One of my internship mates ended up in a mental institution; another intern attempted suicide. Standing in a supply cabinet looking…
May 22, 2012, 5:43 pm
In June, I will be returning to Washington for the annual Pharmed Out conference, a project located at Georgetown University Medical Center. It is one of my favorite events of the year, in part because of the wide array of academics, journalists, and activists who attend, but mainly because of its extraordinarily committed, outspoken director, Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, and her merry band of student volunteers. Adriane agreed to an interview by email. Part 1 appears below. I will post Part 2 next week.
Would it be fair to say that your project was funded by a felony?
Yes, we were funded by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Grant program, a novel and never-to-be-repeated program that resulted from a settlement between Pfizer and all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We promised so much that before we got the grant, the grant administrators asked us to cut do…
May 21, 2012, 5:00 pm
As I mentioned in my last post on improving our comments policy, I had my say about Naomi Schaefer Riley’s work roughly a year ago (Giggling at Stereotypes). Over time I think most reasonable observers will agree that the issue with her work isn’t one flawed post, but a history of offenses against academic norms.
Together with shameless hit pieces like The Faculty Lounges, her assault on African-American Studies was not an exception, but a repetition, of serious blunders against both academic and journalistic values. I wouldn’t have hired her, and I’d have intervened in her efforts earlier. Her work was ideological first and foremost. As others have observed, the question isn’t why she was fired; it’s why she was hired.
Many of us in higher education get to our ideologies as a result of our research: we think “reality is broken” in some way, to use Jane McGonigal’s phrase, and we…
May 7, 2012, 5:05 pm
James Madison, rabble-rouser in chief? (Portrait from Wikipedia)
It’s now routine for police to disperse Occupy encampments, to confine demonstrators inside metal fences, corral them in plastic, and sequester them in “free speech zones” far removed from gatherings they want to influence, or denounce, or otherwise communicate with or about. Public spaces are treated as if they belong to the government, to be doled out by the spoonful, and not to the people, even though the First Amendment is quite explicit that what is forbidden is “abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In 1791 (originalists, please note), the right to assemble was considered important enough to include in the first, foundational supplement to the…
May 1, 2012, 7:20 pm
Rodney King (photo from Wikipedia)
Twenty years ago this week, riots swept through Los Angeles. Rioters looted stores and then burned them to the ground. Photographers and journalists attempted to capture the mêlée, but some were physically assaulted in the process. South Central and South East Los Angeles were on fire. The vitriol and violence emerged hours after several white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the infamous Rodney King beating case. A year before, Rodney King’s name left an indelible mark on our collective conscious as did the video tape of his brutal beating at the hands of baton-wielding officers.
Indeed there was a sad double consciousness for some blacks—pain and empathy for King while at the same time his beating provided some political expediency…
April 30, 2012, 10:39 am
A gang of dangerous youth obstructing the efficient functioning of the educational apparatus (Flickr Commons)
The ghost of Clark Kerr moans and rattles its chains, reminding us how the University of California, in its majesty, acquired a reputation for disrespect of democratic citizenship almost half a century ago, when it tried to turn the Berkeley campus into a politics-free zone. Now, courtesy of Maryan Monalisa Gharavi at The New Inquiry, comes the following travel alert from the University’s Office of the President, sent to all campuses to alert anyone traveling to cities where big May Day demonstrations are expected May 1 (my boldface, their brass):
Advice: Confirm business appointments for May 1st. Allow additional time for ground transportation near protest sites. Avoid all…
April 15, 2012, 9:40 am
When the Michigan legislature returns from recess next week, and votes funds for higher education (far more meager than they used to be, but never mind), it will vote on Section 273a, passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which, according to the Lansing State Journal, reads:
It is the intent of the legislature that a public university that receives funds in section 236 shall not collaborate in any manner with a nonprofit worker center whose documented activities include coercion through protest, demonstration, or organization against a Michigan business.
If this seems a rather precisely targeted prohibition, it is. The Lansing State Journal explains:
During the 2010-11 academic year, a social work graduate student from the University of Michigan who was part of a program to “train committed specialists in community-based work” did a field placement with a Detroit…
April 11, 2012, 11:41 am
Masha Gessen's profile photo on FB
I spent a lot of years living in Soviet Russia and wrote my first book on Queer in Russia. Back then there was a joke:
In America, you send your gays to Camp San Francisco. Here we send our gays to Camp Siberia.
It wasn’t funny because it was more or less true (not to mention insane asylums, forced electroshock conversion therapies, etc.). Alas, the Russia of Vladimir Putin is an equally grim place to be queer.
Recently several regions have passed laws that make it illegal to disseminate “homosexual propaganda to minors.” Both the U.S. and the E.U. have expressed concern that the law will violate the human rights of Russia’s lgbt citizens. Last Thursday, such human rights violations occurred when two men protesting this law were arrested in St. Petersburg.