I love academic bloggers. Academic bloggers worry me sick. And the bloggers who keep me up at night are the ones who have adjunct or alt-ac jobs but are trying to move to the tenure track. Some of those people are using blogs and social media to advance their careers in ingenious ways which I would never have foreseen. But others seem, at least from my vantage, to expect or hope that their online work will help their career in specific ways that it will not and cannot. Being online can help an academic career. But it's important to be clear about what it can help and what it can't.
There was a man who lived in my neighborhood when I was a child. He was called "Droogie."
Droogie lived with his elderly mother in pretty austere circumstances. His father died when he was quite young. Droogie was dangerously violent at times. At other times, he could be seen collapsing into inconsolable tears for no reason at all. In almost all ways imaginable, Droogie was a mess! [Read more]
Five weeks after a terrorist attack on Boston, President Obama has declared that the War on Terror, "like all wars, must end." If I had told you a year ago that he would make such a speech a month and a half after a high-profile terrorist attack on a major American city, neither you nor I would have believed me. But the lessons of Boston drive home the wisdom of the President's decision. It showed us that a terrorist attack is meant to be lived through and that Americans are ready to live through one. And it showed us an excellent civilian response to a terrorist attack paired with a decidedly mixed paramilitary response.
As we head into the long weekend, you Daggers are probably wondering what you're going to read. Might I suggest a short and cheap solution to your entertainment needs? It's got more action than My Dinner With Andre. More laughs than The Deer Hunter. More insight than the entire oeuvre of David Brooks. It is:
That's right, it's almost a book! It's an ebook. A short one. The cassingle of books! [Read more]
For your penance say three Our Fathers and drink three Bloody Marys!(Conspiracy of Silence)
You start out with the truth as reported by the intelligence community, and then you turn it into a total distortion once the political types in the White House and some senior folks at the State Department get their hands on it
On Monday, May 20, a devastating monster of a tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma; the second category 5 tornado to hit this little town. (It happened before on May 3, 1999, with 44 deaths.) Reports coming in today, the day after, state it was two miles wide, of colossal, possibly even record-breaking, proportions. Whole neighborhoods have been flattened, and the grim prediction is that the number of dead, at 24 as of this writing, is sure to rise.
I don't think there's much doubt that, in terms of law enforcement we are headed down a path that will lead to the prosecution of a journalist for publishing something classified. My guess is that the first target will not be a strictly mainstream journalist, but I could be wrong about that. It will almost certainly be a target that doesn't have much public sympathy. It's not going to be somebody who has revealed unmitigated wrongdoing. The Attorney General, whoever it is that first goes down this path, will want to contend with at best, a divided public. [Read more]
While this country professes to honor the ideals of freedom, independence, liberty, and justice, that's just lip service. We have a long history of stifling each and every one of those ideals, and anyone who doesn't believe that should simply try suing a major corporation for an injustice, or try embracing the "freedom" to live an unconventional lifestyle. This country frowns upon those things just like any other country. Gays and women are learning that lesson as we speak.
All of the institutions that are supposedly designed to protect our freedom and justice are nothing more than facades that are actually designed to give us the ILLUSION of freedom and justice. While I don't want to throw a monkey-wrench in anyone's comfort zone, it's very important for us to wake up and be realistic about what we DON'T have, in order to work towards actually achieving what I choose to call "The American Wish List."
According to "TakePart.com, "In 2008, eight states had no laws requiring students recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school. That number has recently dwindled to five, with Nebraska being the latest state to adopt a statewide mandate." [Read more]
Frank Costanza: Serenity now! Serenity now!
George Costanza: What is that?
Frank: The doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say 'serenity now!'
George: Are you supposed to yell it?
Frank: The man on the tape wasn't specific.
The "Serenity Now!" episode remains one of my all time favorite Seinfeld episodes. When I was fiddling with my previous blog, I had at one moment tried to expand my thoughts on the joy and happiness using Frank's approach to achieve peace of mind. But in reading the wikipedia entry on the episode, I discovered another thread in the episode was inspired by the same David Mamet play with which I was also trying to assimilate into the previous blog: Glengarry Glen Ross.
Frank Costanza: Starting tonight we're having a little sales contest. The loser gets fired. The winner gets a Water Pik. [Read more]
At last! Republicans have been awaiting this moment for five long years, the day that Obama finally gets his gate. You see, every two-term president has a defining scandal that renders him permanently villainous and/or ridiculous. By hallowed convention, the scandal must end with word "gate."
Nixon started it with the gate to begin all gates, Watergate. Ronald Reagan followed up with Irangate. Bill Clinton enthralled us with Monicagate. George W. Bush gave us Plamegate.
And now Obama has got his own gate...or rather his own gates. Since no single scandal is big enough bring him down, Republicans and pundits are eagerly gathering them up in a big stinking pile of nefariousness: IRSBenghAPgate! [Read more]
...played out in the wrestling ring, years ago.
When Irwin R. Schyster (always announced as "I...R...S!")
Fought the red, white and blue blooded (but orange-skinned) Patriot!
That's all that needs to be said about this latest scandal, right?
When I got my first job, I also got a book of advice for new professors. It gave me some sensible-sounding advice about writing. Avoid binge writing, it said. Write at regularly scheduled hours and keep each session brief. Too many graduate students are used to writing in crazy binges, the authors said, rather than developing steady writing habits. Faculty had to learn to write all the time, and also had to learn to STOP writing even if things were going well. And I tried to take that advice seriously. I have always believed in good writing habits and deplored the way graduate school undermines those habits. I drank the no-binge Kool-Aid with a smile, in an appropriately moderate serving. But that advice is fundamentally wrong. [Read more]
Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a fable. It is not a fable now, years after it was written. Fitzgerald structured it as a fable and intended it to be read as such. Its original title was Trimalchio in West Egg. Gatsby is based on a party-thrower created by the Greek satirist Petronius. So, when I hear people talking about Gatsby almost as if it’s reportage on Jazz Age America, I think that they are reading the wrong book. Fitzgerald is not Tom Wolfe or Theodore Dreiser. In creating Gatsby, he worked in the manner of Shakespeare, taking his inspiration from ancient and timeless source material. [Read more]
As if it wasn't enough this week that three young women held captive and terrorized by a madman were found alive after 10 long years, we now learn that in 2004, celebrated psychic Sylvia Browne made an appearance on celebrated sinceremeister Montel Williams' television show and told the mother of one of the captives that her daughter was dead.
I worry when I write about the Middle East because I have no confidence that I know what I'm talking about and probably less interest in the differences and similarities between a Shiite and an Alawite than I do in whether or not I think that Richard Foreman's latest play at New York's Public Theater was any good (it was not.) I sometimes confuse Wahabi with the condiment for sushi. Heck, I don't even feel bad about this -- if the sectarian issues of the Islamic world didn't intrude into my own, uninvited, I'd be fine with that. [Read more]
At Esquire, Charles Pearce flags a National Review article wherein some person named Dennis Prager complains that free breakfasts for public school children in Los Angeles will damage the character of the city's young, who will grow up thinking that life is nothing but a bunch of government hand-outs. Oh, and, he says, it encourages lazy parents not to feed their kids before school.
Nobody, he says, is too poor to give their child breakfast because they can go on WebMD right now and find "five breakfast ideas for $1." I can't waste any more time with that Prager person. Terrible. [Read more]
I scanned a nice article at NYT forecasting how our energy needs will change over the next decade.
But it really is the progress our nation has made over the last five years that astounds me.
We are really close to seeing America as a net oil exporter!
Alternative sources of energy are cutting our dependency on coal.
Alternative sources of energy are creating jobs!
New sources of traditional fuel are creating jobs; real jobs paying good money. [Read more]
It's been a tough week for elite gay-baiting. First Howie Kurtz, hack journalist extraordinaire, lost his job at the Daily Beast because he badly botched an attempt to smear NBA center Jason Collins. Part of what Kurtz botched was the facts, claiming that Collins had concealed the fact that he had once been engaged to a woman when Collins had "concealed" that fact by explicitly stating it in his Sports Illustrated coming-out article. ("When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged," is pretty straightforward.) Kurtz, to his credit, has made a full apology.
Then, Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson (also a columnist for the Daily Beast) was also forced to apologize after publicly gay-baiting landmark economist John Maynard Keynes. Ferguson decided to tell an audience that Keynes wasn't interested in long-term policy effects (itself a gross distortion of Keynes's position) because Keynes was a homosexual in a childless marriage. Yes, really. That's the standard of logic and evidence to which Ferguson holds himself. [Read more]
DULUTH - In a scene of overwhelming carnage, Bobby Jenkins, 9, brutally murdered more than 100,000 people, zombies, and other entities yesterday.
The slaughter began at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, when Sally Jenkins, mother of Bobby, allowed her son to play the video game "Slaughter Everything." After doing some bills, Sally Jenkins stumbled across the murder scene and immediately sent young Bobby to his room.
"It was really unsettling," said Sally Jenkins. "He was just going crazy, slaughtering everybody." [Read more]
Last Friday the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute published their final working paper by Micheal Greenstone and Adam Looney. The research shows through charts and grafts, that we would have 2.2 more million jobs in the economy if we followed the same policies that we had during the last 5 recessions. The authors compare this recovery rate to past down turns and recoveries. They place the blame squarely on the reduction of public employees in order to reduce debt. Also the authors point out that we fall short of 10 million jobs right now in this economy. [Read more]