February 28, 2007

Blind item.

What is lamer than fearfulness from people with tenure?

41 comments:

XWL said...

Oh, I know, I know . . .,

fearlessness from anonymous commenters

(oh wait, I'm anonymous)

Nevermind.

I suppose fearless anonymous posts from publickly timid tenured folk topped with a healthy dose of sock-puppetry mixed with some pay for play-ness and then you'd have the ultimate package of lameness.

ASX said...

What is lamer than fearfulness from people with tenure?
Hillary Clinton.

No! Barack Obama!

Am I right? Is Barack Obama lamer than fearfulness rom people with tenure?

Or is it Hillary?

I never can tell with you, Ann!

Ron said...

Sadly, some of the most frightened chickens I've ever known...

Dave F said...

How about the academy itself? How about professors who opine on others' fears?

Gahrie said...

Excuse me?

Shouldn't that be "visually impaired item"?

Daryl Herbert said...

Ann's not exactly fearless here. She's afraid to name the colleague(s) she's upset with. That's lame--I want names, and from-memory transcripts of your faculty meeting. I want mockery and raw prof-on-prof verbal violence.

For too long, petty faculty power struggles have remained obscured behind professorial norms. Isn't the internet supposed to break down politeness and decency? You need to bring a hidden camera to your next faculty meeting, and then parse the video and intersperse witty rejoinders, and let it all hang out there on YouTube. Your students deserve no less.

bill said...

Two spaces after a period.

Spelling your instead of you're.

Notre Dame fans.

SEC fans.

Fans in general, just buy an air conditioner if you're hot.

New Blogger.

bill said...

also lame:
So I am waiting for nice Starbucks girl to get me my drip coffee, "Yes I just want drip... no thanks, no flavoring, please. No cream. No sugar... right... just drip", when I see a man start rummaging his way through The Olive Bar. He methodically went through each olive bin to taste each olive - something the store encourages. Which is fine. Take an olive, shut the lid. Like it - buy it. Don't like it - move on. But this guy took it to the next level by biting into an olive, wincing, and then tossing the olive BACK INTO THE BIN. I gasped a little as I saw this, as did the lady next to me in line. The Man, realizing what he had done, looked around to see if anyone was watching him and locked gazes with us, and then he shut the lid to the bin and hi-tailed it to the wine cooler.

The lady next to me looked at me and said, "We have to say something...I can't just... walk away in good conscience."


But before either of us made the move to get some one's attention, Deli Guy came storming out from behind the counter, grabbed the bin, and stormed back into the deli.

Pogo said...

Some 6 or 7 years ago I witnessed this kind of cowardice among older "mentors" at work. These were emeritus types (and a former chair) whose legacy for integrity and doing right were unassailable.

The story isn't important; it's pretty pedestrian stuff, really. But their inaction, their inability to object at an obvious wrong (except to whisper to you in a back hall how much they supported you or how bad this all was) when it would cost them nothing to come forward awakened me for the first time to the fact that most people remain anxious even when they seem successful, "integrity" has to be earned daily, and most people are not, and cannot become, heroes.

And, I thought, that was pretty lame.

MadisonMan said...

Fear of people with tenure?

I hope you share the whole story some day. As a child and brother of an academic, I can't get enough of petty department squabbles.

Simon said...

Is this about Dahlia's column yesterday?

Kevin said...

Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.

Wallace S. Sayre

MadisonMan said...

It's very interesting to compare my reaction to the blind item to Simon's. I'm in academia and assume this BI is about Ann's colleagues in academia whereas Simon, the law blogger, assumes it's about one of Ann's fellow law bloggers.

What was Ms. Lithwick's column about?

Fen said...

Lame: Al Gore's carbon credit offsets. In one month, Gore uses twice as much energy as the avg american household does in a year. He justifies this buy claiming he buys carbon offsets to reduce his footprint, but:

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe…

As co-founder and chairman of the firm Gore presumably draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he “buys” his “carbon offsets” from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn’t buy “carbon offsets” through Generation Investment Management - he buys stocks.

http://www.ecotality.com/blog/?p=350

Gore pays for his offsets by taking money from his wallet and placing it in his front pocket.

Lame.

CB said...

Student evaluations of people with tenure.

Paying thousands of dollars to listen to the personal opinions and random babbling of people with tenure.

Tenure itself.

Simon said...

MM - well, it may just be a confluence of events. All else being equal, I'd likely agree with you, but Dahlia just wrote a column here which included a discussion of the "disturbing possibility ... [that] [b]oth the love bombing by the justices and the drop in the number of cases heard are symptoms of judicial fearfulness," which I responded to here, including a paranthetical connecting Ann and Dahlia through the pic of them that Ann posted (I'm jealous - but which one of them am I jealous of? I guess in the interests of decorum I have to answer "of Jim Lindgren!"), and then I swing by here this morning and Ann's talking about fearfulness by people with tenure. My mind was pre-poised to make the connection.

Wurly said...

Federal judges with life tenure who shriek about threats to "judicial independence" when their decisions or reasoning are criticized.

Ann Althouse said...

I realize that this post makes me seem like the very thing I am criticizing, but blogging is actually not the only way to speak up about something and there may be something craven about using blogging as the mode of expression in some cases, especially when you have a pedestal higher than that of the people you mean to address.

Steven said...

Ann,

For what it is worth, I know exactly what you are talking about.

I suppose the fear and insecurity are a default position for human beings.

AJD said...

I would never do anything craven, Annie says cravenly.

peter hoh said...

Lame like refusing to drive a Hummer on an unpaved road for fear that it might get dirty?

Pogo said...

AJD, fascinated by the althouse aura, acts like a second grade boy that pulls a girl's pigtails. No more complex than that.

hey AJD, you've got girl cooties!!

Toby said...

No kidding. My wife is in a situation where the provost has said she should take over certain programs. The problem is her dean won't nerve up and tell the people who currently run these programs (which, due to neglect and apathy, are floundering) about the decision.

I don't get it. The guy has tenure, has the provost's support, and is retirment age (so he shouldn't be too worries about making enemies). All he's looking at are two or three possibly unpleasant conversations, but he won't pull the trigger.

Eric said...

Could Ann's post relate in some way to the controversy referenced in the following story?

http://www.rrstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007102260048

(which looks like a pretty miserable situation, by the way.)

Elliott said...

1. The self-delusion of Ann Althouse - "I blog what interests me and not what I care about so I can't be partisan."

2. Using tenure to let yourself go academically.

3. A scientist who believes literally in the biblial creation story.

4. Thinking at this point that the Bush administration's actions might not make sense, but that's ok because they have better intelligence than the public.

5. Silently lining up for airport security without realizing what a crock it is.

6. Calling yourself a Libertarian, but voting a straight Republican ticket.

7. Not voting because they're all crooks, liars, or incompetent.

...

Pogo said...

Re: "Silently lining up for airport security without realizing what a crock it is."

As opposed to getting arrested for speaking truth to power to the screening agents?

Re: "Using tenure to let yourself go academically."

Ooh, a dig at the hostess, no?
I hope I let myself go enough to write for the NYTimes and be invited to lotsa conferences. But sadly I must limit myself to envying Ann her haters. Although they do remind me of teenagers with an onanistic obsession on a certain Farrah poster from 1978. So, you know, ish.

MadisonMan said...

Eric, that controversy has been hashed out here already.

Ann, I'm sure your colleagues appreciate your circumspect nature. If you were at Duke you could really let fly though.

Beth said...

Tenure took a hit after Hurricane Katrina. Our major universities, state and private, all summarily declared financial exigency and started cutting programs, which resulted in cutting faculty. Obviously, adjunct faculty went first, in fact, they were gone by Sept. 1. But the real cuts happened a few months later, during the spring semesters. Tenured faculty found out that tenure means nothing in the face of large-scale revisions of programs. My conservative guess is that well over 100 tenured profs in the New Orleans area were retired or just let go. The American Association of University Professors have protested the process by which this happened, but won't get anywhere with their objections. It took them months to file a protest, and I think their real worry is that this action was a shot across the bow of tenure. It's been shown now that tenure is vulnerable.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The award for transcendental lameness this week has to go to the Taliban. Who the heck claims responsibility for an assassination attempt? Are we supposed to give them an A for effort, or perhaps bonus points because, even though their bomb went off nowhere near Dick Cheney, at least they succeeded in killing a bunch of other people?

Simon said...

Elliott said...
"Using tenure to let yourself go academically"

What's your argument for post-tenure work like Vanguard States, Laggard States: Federalism and Constitutional Rights, 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1745 (2004) or The Vigor of the Anti-Comandeering Doctrine in Times of Terror, 69 Brook. L. Rev. 1231 (2004) being inferior to pre-tenure work like, say, How to Build a Separate Sphere: Federal Courts and State Power, 100 Harv. L. Rev. 1485 (1987) or Tapping the State Court Resource, 44 Vand. L. Rev. 953 (1991)? What's your criterion for assessing the difference in quality?

"Calling yourself a Libertarian, but voting a straight Republican ticket."

She doesn't call herself a libertarian and has had harsh words for libertarianism. And IIRC, she's never voted straight ticket Republican, and rarely voted Republican at all.

Elliot, did you actually know anything about Ann's politics and academic work before criticizing her politics and academic work? Don't you think it'd be a good idea to?

Daryl Herbert said...

There's nothing craven about posting a coded reference that only five people will understand. All five of them will understand just as if Ann sent them private emails, and no one else will get it.

Some people . . . sheesh.

Elliott said...

There was only one dig at Ann in my list. See if you can guess which one?

Naked Lunch said...

Ooh, a dig at the hostess, no?
I hope I let myself go enough to write for the NYTimes and be invited to lotsa conferences. But sadly I must limit myself to envying Ann her haters. Although they do remind me of teenagers with an onanistic obsession on a certain Farrah poster from 1978. So, you know, ish.


Ah yes - any criticism of Ann is an "attack" and *must* be from evil "left blogistan" from hapless and angry empty vessels suffering from some form of psychosis, or "derangement syndrome" who inevitably will get sucked into some "vortex". Because let's face it, anyone that dares to question our gimlet eyed hostess must be crazy in the head.

And when Ann criticizes the "left blogistan" it's not an "attack", it's merely participating in the grandiose "marketplace of ideas", and since this is a "performance art" blog, any posts on politics can't really be interpreted in any other way than art. Can't really criticize art, now can you, it's in the eye of the beholder. And if you do, you're a fascist, because we all know fascists hate art. Right?

MadisonMan said...

During the depression, my understanding is that UW let go 1/3rd of its faculty, including tenured ones -- so says my Dad, a UW PhD. Of course, they got rid of the dead wood. My Grandfather -- who was the Dean of the Grad School in a neighboring state's Land-Grant institution -- always maintained that that's what led to UW's good reputation. His school, in contrast, did all it could to retain faculty in the face of fiscal strictures, and the quality suffered as a result. So, Beth, the short-term pain might result in improved quality.

Beth said...

MadisonMan, some certainly were deadwood and it was past time to see them off. But the cuts, in my opinion, went beyond that and I have worries for a couple of our better programs.

I'll make a comparison: Mississippi, facing many of the same problems as Louisiana, looked at the immediate post-storm landscape and realized that lots and lots of spending was about to occur, meaning lots and lots of tax revenue. They didn't make draconian cuts in anything, and indeed, they were right and their recovery is going pretty well. Louisiana immediately cut education budgets, and now some of us, my institution in particular, are way under our formula funding versus our enrollment, with degree programs and course offerings pared down, which of course can lead to lower enrollment.

And is the state running a deficit? Oh no indeed. There's a big, big surplus.

Beth said...

Madman, one more thing: I'm not actually complaining about the process, or the necessity for trimming, just the extent. My main point in posting originally was to raise the idea that the post-Katrina large-scale trounce of tenure could end up, down the road, providing precedence for other institutions seeking to make changes in faculty.

Pogo said...

Re: "...because we all know fascists hate art. Right?"

Wrong

Score: one Godwin to zero.

(P.S. Given the poor quality of art in the link, I would accept the amendment that fascists are bad at art, or that one should hate fascist art.)

Mike said...

It's been my impression from Katrina that Mississippi is run a lot more competently than is Louisiana.

hdhouse said...

not sure if tenure is a criticism of the academic as much as it is a broadside at administration - the need for that is.

certainly there is reason to question all of it....

perhaps Ann got caught up short with her commercial blogging/NYTs interests and her tenured (is she) "come first" duties at the ol' law school.

Beth said...

Mike, maybe so. But its governor at the time of Katrina was the former head of the GOP, and it had two GOP senators. I dunno, maybe that had something to do with the rapid and thorough response it got from the feds. It also had nowhere near the damage that Louisiana had. New Orleans flooded and sat under water for nearly a month. Once the storm had passed, Mississippi was in recovery mode. It had no flooding. The areas hit had far less population than the areas hit in Louisiana. You have an impression, but I doubt it's well-informed.

Kirk Parker said...

Beth,

"I think their real worry is that this action was a shot across the bow of tenure. It's been shown now that tenure is vulnerable."

From your lips to God's ears. Although there are many individual exceptions, as a class academics have shown themselves to be utterly unworthy of this kind of job protection.