Dean Dad responds—and how!
Berube’s post is a couple of weeks old, since I stopped reading his stuff a few years ago. I mentally consigned him to the same category as Stanley Fish, David Horowitz, and Marc Bousquet—basically, predictable caricatures of their former selves who jumped the shark some time ago. When Berube did the Punch-and-Judy act with Horowitz, I stopped paying attention. I dimly remember him ‘retiring’ from blogging, which seemed about right. Apparently, though, he’s back, and his ego has only inflated.
Berube, who is tenured, attempts to eviscerate my proposal for a contract-based system as a successor to tenure. I say ‘attempts’ because he never actually engages with it, or with the reasons behind it. His method seems to be to drip contempt from on high and hope that enough sophistry and attitude will make up for the lack of an actual argument. This, from someone whose job it is to teach textual interpretation.
Well, yes, that has been my method for some time now. But as DD admits, he hasn’t been paying attention, because ... hey, didn’t the phrase “jump the shark” jump the shark in 2005?
I’m not sure how seriously I can take a provocation from someone who thinks I made my “professional name” by “duking it out with Horowitz,” so I decided to respond by simply referring Dean Dad to my lawyers (the ones with guns and money), by reminding him that the AAUP’s Garcetti report does not support the conclusions he wants to draw from it, and by wishing him and his family a happy Thanksgiving. That’s not snark, either! That’s a real wish. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all times, and this year we’re hosting twenty people for a couple of days. It should be a madhouse. I only hope that my old house’s water system holds up.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. When I’m not cleaning up, finding lost clothing, refilling drinks, and making remarks about stuff, I’ll be working on that Story of the Broken Stick. See you soon!
When Black Friday Comes update: I was unaware that Dean Dad’s reply was also posted at Inside Higher Ed. The IHE version of DD’s post is 20 percent more delicious, because it mocks my photo in the upper right corner. Twice! In fact, DD takes that photo as evidence of my great big huge ego. Apparently I think I am saving the planet from David Horowitz.
I think this might just be the best interpretation of anything ever. I hereby apologize for nominating DD for the Richard Cohen Award.
But the really funny thing is that I do not look like Vladimir Putin in the least. Everyone knows that I bear an eerie resemblance to Charles Kinbote.
How could you not take the bait when he compared you to Putin (albeit inadvertently)??!!!?
What’s the world coming to?Posted by on 11/24 at 05:32 PM
Berube, who is tenured, attempts to eviscerate my proposal for a contract-based system as a successor to tenure....His method seems to be to drip contempt from on high....
You know who else was tenured and dripped contempt from on high? That’s right—Hitler, that’s who!
But Hitler would never wish his interlocutors a Happy Thanksgiving, so I guess our learned host is better than Hitler in at least that aspect. If only we knew where Stanley Fish, David Horowitz, and Marc Bousquet stand on the Thanksgiving question!
I for one am happy to wish all those who haunt this shark-jumped airspace a Happy Thanksgiving as well!Posted by John Protevi on 11/24 at 06:56 PM
But that is how textual interpretation works in the post-modern university! Factual arguments like “this authors sucks because she’s a she and still alive” are no longer acceptable and have been replaced by attitude. Who’s the good Dean been hiring all these years? Reactionary canonists?Posted by on 11/24 at 07:19 PM
Well, now that I think of it, I do want to know how one goes from the argument “the erosion of tenure began decades ago” to the conclusion “professors in blue Northeastern states would never have to worry about Horowitz.” Because, you know, no one could have anticipated that there would ever be any controversies over Middle Eastern Studies scholars at Columbia or Barnard, because New York is very liberal.
Anyway, I farmed DD over to LGM not only because I’m in a good mood but because Scott nails it:
Tenure protects academic freedom not so much because of contractual language protecting academic freedom but because it places the burden of proof for termination on the institution. Except for academics that exceed a university’s standards for re-appointment to such a degree that their academic freedom is unlikely to be a practical problem anyway, proving that the neutral justifications used to justify a non-renewal were actually just pretexts for punishing someone for expressing unpopular views would be exceptionally difficult. Particularly since academics can’t be assumed to be sitting on a bankroll sufficient to hire an attorney and fund very complex litigation.
This has been another edition of What Scott Lemieux Said. With the kicker that DD’s equity argument (shorter DD: few people have tenure, THE SYSTEM IS DYING, so let’s get rid of tenure) is addressed in the AAUP’s recent statement on conversions of appointments to the tenure track.
Now, where’s that damn shark?Posted by Michael on 11/24 at 07:53 PM
Now, where’s that damn shark?
Behind you, obviously!Posted by on 11/24 at 08:32 PM
I do love the dripping…
Dad drips the dripping so well...droll drools of drip drip drippy drips.
But thanksgiving, yes! The one day I imbibe, well, gravy.Posted by neill on 11/24 at 09:10 PM
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Michael. I was affronted on your behalf about the “professional name” comment (and personally affronted by the rest). It’s the time of the semester when I live in a constant state of affrontment. D’oh! I thought I was an English professor! How dare I abuse the language in such a fashion!Posted by Dr. Crazy on 11/24 at 09:23 PM
since I stopped reading his stuff a few years ago.
Oooh, that’s gotta sting!
Of course, he neglects to admit that it’s because your posts frequently contain words with more than two syllables. Around here, that would be quite the obstacle for many of the administrators.
When I’m not cleaning up, finding lost clothing,
Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!
Er ... I mean, Happy Thanksgiving, Professor.Posted by on 11/24 at 11:03 PM
I’m so glad you brought the porn guitar for that line, mds. I was sitting there this afternoon, writing “finding lost clothing” and hoping someone would pick up on the obvious insinuation. As for when DD stopped reading me—it is to laugh. Anyone who thinks my work consists of playing Punch-and-Judy with U. No. obviously never read any of my stuff in the first place.
And Dr. C., thanks so much for being affronteried on my behalf. I know my interpretational skills, she is not so good, but I did see you in that thread and was thankful. And so, happy Thanksgiving! It’s the most ... affronterful time ... of the year!Posted by Michael on 11/24 at 11:57 PM
Thanksgiving IS the most affronterful time of the year! You have no idea how I held back in that comment. Having just been chastised over there for being a mean lady who doesn’t know how to read a few weeks ago, I did a lot of editing before I posted my fairly tame rejoinder.Posted by Dr. Crazy on 11/25 at 12:13 AM
Man! Looking at this, I cannot wait to jump the shark.Posted by Isis the Scientist on 11/25 at 12:51 AM
And for you christian and Isis, here it is, the original ‘real’(captcha) jumping of the shark.
And i can only hope that the Story of the Broken Stick becomes the metaphoric equivalent of Dean Dad’s demise. We have waited a very long time.Posted by on 11/25 at 05:06 AM
Since tenure is forever but a contract is finite, a contract system reduces the downside risk of a bad hiring decision
And we all know that administrators would never consider an outspoken professor whose research rattled the cages of the economically and/or politically powerful to be a bad hiring decision.Posted by on 11/25 at 08:17 AM
Look one can debate tenure. Nothing wrong with that. But to say that abolishing it would increase protections against politically motivated attacks is just silly on its face. The only way to come close to the same level of protection would be a strong union (my preferred solution), but somehow I suspect Mr. Dad wouldn’t like that either.Posted by on 11/25 at 11:31 AM
Spyder @ 12: my goodness! That scene from Happy Days seems most contrived and implausible. Why, it is almost as if the show had run out of ideas for story lines and/or characterizations, and had begun to devolve into self-parody! I think we need some kind of shorthand for that. Also, the background music melted my ears.
V. Ed @ 13, Christian @ 14: yep, and note how Mr. Dad concentrates exclusively on ridiculing me for being concerned about the big bad Horowitz. Because, you know, David Horowitz is the only person in America who has ever brought political pressure to bear on college professors. Dad might want to read up a bit on the history of academic freedom in the US since (and just before!) the founding of the AAUP, even though doing so might lead him to realize just how profoundly silly it is to argue that the abolition of tenure would better protect faculty from politically motivated attacks.Posted by Michael on 11/25 at 12:14 PM
Dean Dad is an administrator at a community college, a very different sort of institution from a major public university. Aside from the snark, it may be that what’s going on here is that two people have in their heads images of very different things - tenure at a community college versus tenure at a research university . I don’t think Michael has anything of use to offer on whether, as a matter of fact, tenure benefits the services offered by a community college to its students, and I don’t think Dean Dad can tell us much about the role of tenure in protecting the freedom of scholars who aspire to add to the sum of human understanding.
But I do think it’s interesting to note that Michael, who has tenure, is free to write under his own name, while Dean Dad, who does not, feels the need to express himself under a pseudonym.Posted by on 11/25 at 12:18 PM
and I don’t think Dean Dad can tell us much about the role of tenure in protecting the freedom of scholars who aspire to add to the sum of human understanding.
Well, as christian h. notes, Dean Dad could support faculty unionization, which is a reasonable approach even for a community college. But that would leave some of the onus on the administration.
Anyway, if one looks at Ledbetter or Gross, it’s clear that the SCOTUS as currently staffed will bend over backwards to give employers every benefit of the doubt in discrimination suits. So even a load of money would be unlikely to help professors who were let go only “partially” for unjust reasons. Perhaps DD supports federal laws protecting academic freedom, in the manner of the Lily Ledbetter Act? No, I’m not holding my breath on that one, either.
(And perhaps Professor Lemieux can put up a post about this in a week’s time, too. Alas, the inequities between higher-traffic blogs, lower-traffic blogs, and mere commenters are unlikely to be addressed unless the Gary Farber Internet Priority Act becomes law. )Posted by on 11/25 at 01:00 PM
hey, didn’t the phrase “jump the shark” jump the shark in 2005?
I dunno. Some think you didn’t jump the shark until early 2008, which was a truly evil time for a displaced Bostonian like myself. Almost too traumatic to recall.Posted by J. Fisher on 11/25 at 01:57 PM
didn’t the phrase “jump the shark” jump the shark in 2005?
Certainly by 2006, Hein (originator) sold the web site and the domain name to Gemstar (publishers of TV Guide) in 2006.Posted by on 11/25 at 04:38 PM
It’s worth noting that DD is the only BitchPhD guest blogger in history, myself possibly excluded, who made my eyes glaze over by the second sentence of each of his guest posts.Posted by Chris Clarke on 11/25 at 06:35 PM
myself possibly excluded
If Chris ever made our eyes glaze over, it was with a delicious honey glaze.Posted by on 11/25 at 07:20 PM
Eliminating tenure, like cutting taxes, reducing the power of teachers unions, and tort “reform,” is one of those causes whose advocates tend to see it as a universal solution to everything even remotely connected to it.Posted by Ben Alpers on 11/25 at 07:34 PM
If Chris ever made our eyes glaze over, it was with a delicious honey glaze.
HAM! </ponyobythesea>Posted by Chris Clarke on 11/25 at 07:38 PM
Some think you didn’t jump the shark until early 2008
Two words, J. Fisher: Mission. Accomplished.
Mmmmmmm, honey glaze. Must eat more food now.Posted by Michael on 11/25 at 07:48 PM
For what it’s worth:Posted by Steve Krause on 11/25 at 10:45 PM
@christian h.: I don’t think DD is a fan of strong unions; his CC faculty are unionized, and he complains bitterly about some of the consequences. In particular, I think raises are determined (almost?) entirely by seniority, which deprives him of a very useful carrot for changing faculty behavior. (In contrast, many R1s have both tenure and yearly merit raises, which makes more sense to me, at least in that context.)Posted by on 11/26 at 12:42 AM
Another example of when jumping the shark becomes jumping the shark.
16.2.1= Actually tenure at community colleges does protect speech; whereas those who are one year to year contracts are often let go for comments that could be construed as moral turpitude (aaah that wonderful catchphrase).
Since the captcha is “love,” then i hope you all receive grateful blessings of bounteous wonders in the morrow.Posted by on 11/26 at 12:53 AM
"But Hitler would never wish his interlocutors a Happy Thanksgiving...”
Come now, that’s only because Hitler was German.
Glückliches Erntedankfest to ya all.Posted by on 11/26 at 01:00 AM
Spyder - Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Here’s the point I was trying to make: academic freedom is not a God-given right and it doesn’t appear in the Declaration alongside life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a social compact whereby certain individuals have employment protections that other people don’t have. Why does society agree to provide these employees with special protections? It’s not because academics have any characteristics that make them more worthy. It’s because society has made the judgment that the nature of their work - the investigation and promulgation of new knowledge - requires them to be free to follow their ideas without fear of retaliation. And society needs and values the creation of new knowledge, so we are on the whole willing to put up with a fair number of loudmouths and dead wood in order to avoid the chilling effect that ordinary “at will” employment relationships would have on academic creativity. That’s the idea, anyway.
Query whether these considerations apply at the community college level. Community college professors and instructors have the primary function of imparting skills to young people so that they can productively enter the work force and participate in society as educated citizens. Although some of them perform original research, most don’t. Is the trade-off - protection of free inquiry at the cost of tolerating some incompetents and fools - one that is worth making at the community college level? I’m just asking the question, not answering it - but I think it’s one that can’t be avoided in this debate between the Endowed Chair Professor of Awesomeness at Great State University and the Dean of Keeping Smokers out of the Bathrooms at Aging Suburb Community College.Posted by on 11/26 at 11:35 AM
Community colleges are also the one place where the bulk of people in non-privileged classes (hereinafter referred to as “we") have a chance in hell of getting something more than a high-school-level education.
I have some trouble with the notion that full and untruncated exposure to a full range of ideas and world views is somehow less important to the young woman who will end up repairing air conditioners to feed her family than it is to the young man who hopes to interpret Salinger’s private letters for a living.
My most recent foray into the world of higher education involved a couple of years in the Landscape Horticulture department of an urban CC. It was emphatically a tradesperson’s program, and academic freedom issues were not at all uncommon.
Elite schools, at their best, contribute significantly to the sum of human knowledge, but without the CCs (and state schools, and a few other metainstitutions) that work to give people like me the tools to appreciate and use that knowledge, that iterating sum becomes the property of a priesthood.Posted by Chris Clarke on 11/26 at 03:59 PM
I think we need some kind of shorthand for that. Also, the background music melted my ears.Posted by biptube on 11/26 at 09:57 PM
While it may be hard to separate from its history (removing or at least reducing the threats of blasphemy and heresy against the learned), academic freedom in the US stems from the First Amendment (arguably rights endowed by all creation). There have been many legal sanctions against the free speech of employees (private and public), as well as mandated loyalty oaths and so forth, and without a strong collective support for holding academic freedom to the highest standard, higher education would suffer grievously.
As Chris points out, community colleges are havens of tenured academic freedom because the bulk of high school graduates in the US were treated to curricula that was necessarily biased and prejudiced by the doctrines of local boards and state governments (think Texas science and history curricula and standards). We all need to stand up with community college faculties to support this effort.
Collective bargaining associations are impediments to the machinations of administrations because of the legal support and funding the unions offer. Without strong associations, administrations--especially those mirroring DD’s views--would be able to use their legal and economic power to silence speech and criticism. Scott mentioned it, christian mentioned it, i mentioned it--the enormous expense of fighting wrongful termination cannot be carried by an individual against a system. Dean Dad’s suggestions are really disguised union-bashing to insure that administrations have carte blanche freedom to act as they please against faculty.
Without protected academic freedom (through tenure and other contractual means) we allow deans to use their will to silence those they find politically offensive.Posted by on 11/26 at 10:18 PM
Sorry, but i forgot:
In keeping with the spirit of this day and the spirit of the broken stick, today is the 92nd Birthday of the NHL! That is something to be thankful for in so many ways.Posted by on 11/26 at 10:25 PM
Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!
I so agree with Spyder—community college faculty need tenure, too, all the more so because they are the front line of popular higher education.
About M Berubé blogging under his own name, while Dean Dad does so under a pseudonym—I get that this about relative vulnerability a lot of the time. but I’m not convinced that it’s so here; Dean Dad seems to be saying exactly what his institution would want him to say, all of the time (the unions! They are so whiny! Tenure! It has so jumped the shark!) so that he is not at much risk of dismissal. In his case, it might just be professional convenience: in his role as an admin, I’m sure he wants to project an impression of even-handedness; if people traced his anti-faculty opinions back to him, that would become difficult.Posted by on 11/26 at 10:43 PM
Bérubé. sorry.Posted by on 11/26 at 10:45 PM
What can you say about a man who blogs under *two* accents? And the 2009 Stanley Cup Game 7 is being replayed right now on Fox Sports Pittsburgh. Not that anyone would be interested (What I’d like to watch on TV is Game 6, actually.)Posted by on 11/26 at 11:28 PM
How about those Blackhawks, huh? they’re looking awful good right now.Posted by on 11/27 at 12:17 AM
Also, I agree with Chris and Spyder that protection of free speech in an academic setting is very important on all levels, and is especially important as a protection of teaching. From the point of view of natural sciences, the way research is financed means there isn’t academic freedom in research anyway outside humanities and pure mathematics.Posted by on 11/27 at 12:28 AM
From the point of view of natural sciences, the way research is financed means there isn’t academic freedom in research anyway outside humanities and pure mathematics.
You mean freedom really IS just another word for nothing left to lose?Posted by John Protevi on 11/27 at 09:39 AM
"academic freedom in the US stems from the First Amendment”
Actually this is not so, and it’s a source of confusion that originates in Michael’s original post. The first amendment restricts the power of the government. It has no application to the powers of private employers. Academic freedom applies to the academy - whether public or private.
So the first amendment places no restrictions at all on the power of private employers (from Harvard to Harcum Junior College) to fire or discipline professors. Only public employees have first amendment rights to be free from retaliation for what they say.
But first amendment protection is generally limited to non-work-related speech. For example, 50 or 60 years ago it was commonplace after a municipal election for the new administration to fire any city employees who had worked for the defeated candidates. The supreme court held that such retaliation by government employers violates the first amendment. So, unlike a private employee, who even today can be fired for working for a political candidate, public employees can support the candidates and policies of their choice with no fear of retaliation.
The issue in Garcetti was whether the first amendment would be extended from areas of political or general interest speech to issues that were specific to the employment relationship, and the Supreme Court said no. It held that the first amendment does not give public workers greater protection than private workers for job-related speech.
This is why Michael has first amendment protection only with respect to areas outside his areas of expertise - when he’s acting as a citizen, he has first amendment protection. But, under Garcetti, when he’s acting as a professor (ie an employee) he does not. At least, that is the current trend in the law.
Academic freedom is different. Unlike the first amendment, academic freedom applies to both public and private institutions. And unlike the first amendment, academic freedom applies specifically to work-related speech. Academic freedom protects Michael and his colleagues whether they work at Penn State or Penn.
There’s nothing at all wrong with Michael’s efforts to expand the protections provided to public employees by trying to run academic freedom through the first amendment in order to create a right that’s enforceable in federal court. I think there are valid public policy reasons for doing so and I hope the efforts succeed. But to say that academic freedom originates in the first amendment is simply a mistake, and it confuses an understanding of the issues.Posted by on 11/27 at 12:24 PM
… just how profoundly silly it is to argue that the abolition of tenure would better protect faculty from politically motivated attacks.
Hmmmm . . . My own position as a bright and original intellectual who lost a tenure decision and so has been on the outside looking in for over two decades, that gives me a very strong bias against the intellectual conservatism that is protected by tenure. But to argue against tenure because somehow getting rid of it would protect faculty from political hacks, thats nuts! N U T Z NUTZ! The fact is, the current situation is so bad that I’m reconsidering my anti-tenure position. I’d much prefer strong faculty unions, but in the absence of those, tenure’s what you guys and gals have got, so by all means fight for it.
On a more self-serving note, I draw your attention to my series of three posts in memory of Claude Lévi-Strauss:
The King’s Wayward Eye: For Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss 2: Subject and Object
Claude Lévi-Strauss 3: What’s the Subject
Hmmmm . . . A bit of repetition there.Posted by Bill Benzon on 11/27 at 05:52 PM
Bloix has given the clearest explanation of what academic freedom is, and why tenure might be a useful way of protecting academic freedom. Its much better than the original kurffuffle between Berube and Dean Dad. Thanks.
I would like to also agree with Chris Clarke and spyder; its important for people at teaching institutions like Community Colleges, State R2s, etc, to have tenure as a protection for academic freedom.Posted by on 11/27 at 06:22 PM
Actually, Matt, there’s a problem with Bloix’s last comment:
There’s nothing at all wrong with Michael’s efforts to expand the protections provided to public employees by trying to run academic freedom through the first amendment in order to create a right that’s enforceable in federal court.
The whole point of the Garcetti report is to decouple the definition of academic freedom from First Amendment case law, and I thought that was obvious in my first post. The problem is that to whatever extent the definition of academic freedom is pegged to the First Amendment (pace spyder @ 32), the fate of academic freedom depends on the decisions of the courts in cases like Garcetti. Hence the AAUP’s insistence on academic freedom as a professional principle rather than as an adjunct to the First Amendment. Sorry for the confusion, though. This is not the first time I have written about such things, and I shouldn’t have assumed that everyone was familiar with my previous work on the subject.Posted by Michael on 11/27 at 09:14 PM
It would seem to me that we need a two prong effort. While it is necessary (as well as well and good) for the AAUP to insist on establishing their professional principle as distinct from the First Amendment, protections for faculties at a broad range of colleges and universities (and even k-12 school systems) rest upon encouraging the courts to establish a relationship between academic freedom and the First Amendment. The social (captcha) contract that entwined both absolute cognitive liberty with protections for those who are needed by the societies and culture to ponder, reflect and report on these liberties, has a long history.
If the AAUP can be successful at partially decoupling academic freedom from tenure (only to the extent that academic freedom is applicable to the adjunct and non-tenured), and expand the applicability of the professional principle, the courts would be more inclined to view all of our educators as being worthy of these protections. None of this can happen though, at any level, without motivated and inspired union and association support, across the board.Posted by on 11/27 at 09:51 PM
"The whole point of the Garcetti report is to decouple the definition of academic freedom from First Amendment case law,”
Okay, I’ve read the AAUP Garcetti report again, and there’s no doubt that it advocates a strategy of attempting to use the precautionary language in Garcetti as the basis of efforts to create first amendment rights for professors that are different from and more protective than such rights as afforded to non-academic public employees. So I don’t see how the report can be said to be trying to decouple academic freedom from the first amendment. I do see that there is emphasis on protecting academic freedom in institutional ways as well, but the report does not accept Hong et al as the last word - to the contrary, it advocates using litigation to roll Hong back and to establish a first amendment basis of at least the right to participate in institutional governance without fear of retaliation. And I think this is a worthy goal and an intelligent strategy.Posted by on 11/28 at 01:28 AM
Well, this is a lot like watching my parents fight.
Speaking in economics terms, governments at all levels are expecting colleges to accomplish a lot by constantly increasing the percentage of the population that attends college (on the theory that if everyone attends college, everyone will be rich - uh, no, if everyone attends college, everyone will be better educated (hopefully) and then hopefully, the increase in skills per cap will result in an overall increase in growth and perhaps, common sense), while essentially reducing per cap funding. Given that donors want to empire-build as do administrators, that means that someone will get squeezed and that’s going to be the instructors and the students. Unless you can climb the heap to the top, and teach in the elite schools, which are then going to tend to be filled with kids with well-off parents.
Yuck. But that overarching issue doesn’t have anything to do with tenure or academic freedom, directly. Tenure is going to be a pain in the ass if you’re trying to administer a shrinking budget (or a budget that doesn’t grow with the size of your student body), so then we’ve got the tendency to gradually weed out tenured people (slow) and use adjuncts. I’m sure that DD has problems with tenured people hired in (say) 1985 not carrying the load that tenure should demand in 2009, since the CC’s are getting slammed from both directions (more students, less money).
Such a headache. Of course, life tenure is one form of a cure for the issue of academic freedom, but if the economics forbids that (it certainly seems to be getting that way, the further away you get from rich private schools), then it has to be protected by some other method. And that method appears to be nothing. It’s easy to fire temporary contractors for any reason including prejudice and simple irritation. I know that because, way back in 1983, when I was in HS, I was a temporary contractor construction laborer. (A house framer, as the terminology would go.) That was useful to the boss - no paperwork, no SS, no health benefits, no nothin’ but an hourly wage, and if they didn’t need you, well, get a job at the 7-11. Showed up drunk? You’re out of there. Somebody missed the board when using a nail gun and you wound up with a nail embedded between your eyes (I knew a guy that happened to)? Oh well, bye.
There’s not going to be much in the way of employee rights in such a situation, or much of anything, actually. The comparable situation for adjuncts can’t provide much in the way of a living wage, much less academic freedom.
Given that all the above situations continue to move in the wrong direction, that implies that Something Bad Will Happen. Probably Several Bad Somethings.
Normally, at least in politics, I am entirely in favor of yelling a lot, but this instance strikes me as definately not worth the trouble. The fault lies in the economics of the situation combined with the social devaluing of actual academics.
Anyways. I managed to not weigh in on anybody’s side: good going, self!
[’Happy belated Thanksgiving, Michael, and the same to all your commenters.’]Posted by on 11/28 at 03:52 AM
Dean Dad? Why I stopped reading him ... Ah,well, actually, I’ve never read him. He can’t manage an argument without an ad hominem or two? And he has a column?
Everyone knows Michael looks like Patrick Swayze, not Putin, by the way. In fact, there was talk that Michael was his dancin’ double in “Dirty Dancing.” I don’t buy into that rumor at all, I should say. But I’ve heard Michael speak, and I would not be surprised to hear that the equally rumorous rumor that he was dubbed in for the infamous line “No one puts Baby in the corner!” turns out to be true.Posted by on 11/28 at 09:00 PM
Michael looks like Patrick Swayze? Wolverines!Posted by on 11/28 at 09:24 PM
Putin, Swayze, feh. I happen to have seen a film recently which features MB’s jawdroppingly realistic Doppelgänger, whose name I will not reveal here, because I want to present y’all with the screen capture which will blow your minds in the blink of an eye. (Seriously, I never saw the resemblance before, but wow.)
Unfortunately, as a technical ignoramus, I don’t know how to capture a still from a DVD running on my computer. My MacBook won’t let me use Grab while a DVD is running; do I need to buy some particular software or something? Help.Posted by Dave Maier on 11/28 at 09:31 PM
I use SnapZ Pro X to get DVD frame grabs with my Mac.Posted by Bill Benzon on 11/28 at 09:51 PM
But Michael did look like Putin back in the day, when Dean Dad was a regular reader. Before the terrible mishap with the shark and the reconstructive Swayze surgery, of course.Posted by on 11/28 at 10:07 PM
Thanks Bill - now I have to run get the DVD from the library before my trial period runs out ...
[and then your minds will be blown]Posted by Dave Maier on 11/28 at 10:26 PM
The thing about people who resemble Michael is that they’re super cool.Posted by Chris Clarke on 11/29 at 01:57 PM
Great ad. Lucy the Dog does indeed think I’m super cool, though a little full of myself sometimes. She also thinks I have a puppy sense of humor, and she barks this in a most disdainful way.Posted by on 11/29 at 03:40 PM
Nothing really to add to this particular subject, but I have something at least tangentially related to academics. Since we’ve talk in this Airspace previously about global warming, I think a lot of folks here might be interested in this post on the recent (and very strategic) attack by the global warming denialist. There’s a lot of good stuff about “experts” and the public trust. There’s also some juicy inside baseball stuff about “arrogant” physicists that y’all might enjoy. Someone here a month or so back - was it mds?- clued me in to the fact that many chemist have an inferiority complex next to physicists. Anyway, Joe Bob sez check it out.Posted by on 11/29 at 09:20 PM
Actually Michael bears a closer resemblance to this guy:
http://www.imdb.com/media/rm105617664/nm0005164Posted by on 11/29 at 10:09 PM
Hey Bloix, I have a reply to your comment 45 in the next post. I didn’t think we should bury that discussion down here in the comment dungeon. Discussions of my physical appearance, those we can relegate to the blog’s sub-basement.Posted by on 11/29 at 10:16 PM
What Chris Clarke said @30. Over. and. over.Posted by Sherman Dorn on 11/29 at 11:10 PM
Yeah, Bloix - as you can see @55, here in the sub-basement anything goes. It’s a rather undisciplined, free-flowing affair down here. Lots of fun, but not for the faint of heart. Any moment I expect JP or mds to strip down to their undies and start playing the bongos. But everyone’s always cool with that because Christian h. always brings the good vodka, and that makes even half-nekked bongo playing sound alright.Posted by on 11/29 at 11:28 PM
What Chris Clarke said @30. Over. and. over.
Yes, and that.
here in the sub-basement anything goes. It’s a rather undisciplined, free-flowing affair down here
Thank Moloch it’s not as undisciplined and free-flowing as my retirement-post party in 2007. That one got ugly. People died. But at least we had a nice brunch afterwards.Posted by on 11/30 at 01:04 AM
So can we go back to that pic of Michael presenting B. Hussein Obama a signed copy of _La muerte de los estudios culturales_? Apparently the President murmured “good thing you have tenure.”
Captcha “book,” of course.Posted by on 11/30 at 01:51 AM
Someone here a month or so back - was it mds?- clued me in to the fact that many chemist have an inferiority complex next to physicists.
Hmm, I think it’s slightly more in-character for me to have noted that many physicists have a superiority complex when it comes to the other sciences. This is the sentiment rearing its ugly Putin-like head in the linked article. As usual, I am reminded of Clarke’s* First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
There probably needs to be a corollary about distinguished scientists holding forth on scientific subjects outside of their expertise.
*No, the other Clarke. And jeez, Chris, you do love that video, don’t you?Posted by on 11/30 at 01:44 PM
No, the other Clarke.
It’s worth mentioning* that my grandfather’s name was Arthur D. Clarke, which fact has on occasion caused me, like the guy who captained PT-108, to feel like I missed fame by this much.
And jeez, Chris, you do love that video, don’t you?
It’s super cool.
* though probably not here.Posted by Chris Clarke on 11/30 at 01:53 PM
Arthur C., Shmarthur C. Did the other Clarke get to contribute some of his saurian DNA to the mdslet? I think not.Posted by on 11/30 at 02:30 PM
That’s so cute, mds—the little mdslet looks just like a OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FEETPosted by on 11/30 at 05:00 PM
You do realize that the shape is still consistent with hooves, right? And those were horse heads before. Do I really need to draw a Venn diagram? In ASCII?Posted by on 11/30 at 05:13 PM
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This is the sentiment rearing its ugly Putin-like head in the linked article. As usual, I am reminded of Clarke’s* First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.Posted by on 07/24 at 09:05 AM
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