Monday, February 21, 2011

Protester Bleg: If you'll pardon another pro-labor post...

...I now have information on how to quickly and easily get donations of essential food and personal hygiene supplies to the protesters in Madison. If you'd like details, drop me a line.

Oh, what the hell: I don't know why I'm being so reticent. It's my blog, after all. Here it is: Madison's Willy St. Co-op is taking gift card orders over the phone. They collect them during the day, then every morning call the protesters, ask what they need (labor can't live on pizza alone!), and use the gift cards to buy it. You can call the co-op at: (608) 251-6776.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On, Wisconsin.

UPDATED: now, with FREE!!! Justin Bieber photo! (For real: Scroll down)

For those of you who haven't heard about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's plans to bust the public employee unions (including all UW system faculty, as well as schoolteachers, public hospital nurses, and... well, any state or local government employee represented by a union), you can check it out here. (There is also a piece at the Chronicle, but I'm not linking to it because so many of the comments, as usual, are ignorant and hateful. But it's there, if you want to read it.)

For one opinion of why Wisconsin finds itself in this situation rather than with the large surplus it was slated to end the 2009-2011 biennial with, you might look here.

And finally: one of the many videos** floating around the web of the Tuesday protest.*** I just like this one 'cause of the Billy Bragg:

UPDATE: UW-Madison undergraduate student council endorses a walkout at noon today (Thursday). Choice quote: “If your philosophy of student council does not include protecting this university and our students, then I question why you are here.”

**The shouts you hear are not "U.S.A." (which is what I thought at first) but "Kill the Bill." And the Madison firefighters get such a huge cheer because theirs is one of the three public unions actually exempted from the bill, so showing up for the protest meant breaking with their state chapter (which supported Walker in the November election) in order to stand with the other state workers. Solidarity FTW.

***Favorite sign from a friend's photos from Tuesday: a placard with a teen-mag photo of the weirdly ubiquitous Justin Bieber, emblazoned with the words "Bieber says: Hell no!" UPDATE: FOUND IT:

****Note how the thousands of protesters are mostly keeping to the sidewalks and staying off the capitol's lawns? Because even when they're righteously pissed off, Midwesterners are still considerate. I kind of want to hug them all.

You know what, folks?

I'm tired.

Teaching eleven units, plus chairing two department committees, plus editing a national org's newsletter, plus grad students, plus grant and conference applications, plus the big university research council, plus plus plus...

I'm teaching all night classes this semester. I generally get home around 10 p.m., and to bed around midnight or later. Yet my best writing time is between 6:30 and 10 a.m. This is not working well for me.

I agreed (before getting hit with the teaching schedule from hell) to give my first-ever presentation (approx. 40 min.) to the department research seminar on the new project. Yeah, I'm sure that's gonna go great.

Sleep is a thing of the past. As are walks with friends, photography, and anything else that I used to enjoy. Even grocery shopping has become hard to fit in. I'm exhausted, I'm feeling like I'm on a fucking hamster wheel, and frankly, this semester has me ready to throw in the towel.

That's me, for today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Still doing it wrong, after all these years.


That post I took down? It was the product of a passing irritation with a quote from c. 20 history bigwig Collingwood, and its magisterial "you're doing it wrong" thing got under my skin. But three hours later I was in a much more positive mood, and I was over it. Besides, in light of Historiann's Lawrence Stone posts (and her nice handling of their blowback) of last year, I decided that my own post was redundant. Again, my apologies to the commenters. And yeah, surely the post can be found elsewhere. Ah well -- my blog, my call.

But hey, something about my decision to take that post down (or perhaps about some totally unrelated thing? Maybe a response I recently posted to a misogynist commenter on a friend's blog?)
then a person used the blog comments area to react to my objection to a misogynist post on a friend's website. And you know, I don't usually respond to comments directly, but since this correspondent's contribution to the discussion threatened to languish in the comments thread of a nothing post, even though s/he explicitly wanted "[my] groupies to gander at" it, I thought I'd put up front and center so everyone could get a chance to share the love:
Notorious idiot, do us all a favor and do not declare yourself an intellectual because if that is the case we are all Stephen Hawkings. Reading fiction 13 hours a day does not make one an intellectual. Leave it to the public to decide what we think of your intellect, so far I'm not seeing much. Please shove all apostrophes up your elitist ass. P.S. I'm not bothering with your personal email....I'll leave my comment here for your groupies to gander at,asshole.
To which I must reply: I have groupies?

UPDATE: said commenter made himself plain when he came back to post the same noxious spew he had on my friend's blog (complete, again, with link to his own website) on the comments area of this post. I did delete it, because I don't tolerate hate speech here, and that's what his site is, in my judgment: imagine the above, but directed at all American women, and with much more abusive language. See? You didn't need to go there at all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

poofed post

My apologies to those who took the time to comment on the most recent post, which I have now disappeared. No, it was nothing incriminating or juicy -- it was just incredibly cranky, and I decided, on later reflection, that I just don't want to present that way here, unless it's actually productive in some way. Some of the stuff that I think is clever in the moment... well, it's just not.

This is shaping up to be one cranky-making semester.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trouble a-brewin'

I've been really enjoying the conversation on the previous post on fellowships and grants in the Humanities, and I remain more committed than ever to increasing our Office of Research's awareness of the differences between Humanities and Science grants, so everyone** gets the kind of help and processing they need.

But the discussion has taken an interesting turn: Humanities researchers wondering where the money goes. We've had a few people intimately involved with the university side of the process (I'm looking at you, Katrina) chime in with their experience, enough that I've decided to do a separate post on the subject, probably to be posted Tuesday.

But it gets even more nefarious. You see, Comrade PhysioProf and I have been having an off-blog conversation over the last day or so, and I like to imagine that it's increasing some awareness on both sides. Seriously: how often do Humanities and Science faculty sit down and talk about their own takes on things that affect them both without it descending into a frantic grab for as much of the ever-shrinking cash pool as possible?

So, I cooked up an idea to do a joint post, cobbled together from the e-mails we've been sending back and forth. The Comrade upped the ante by suggesting that it be cross-posted at both of our blogs (or "blogges," if you like), so as to bring more science blog readers into the conversation. And please, if you're a grants office person, jump on in, too, because we want to hear from you.

And while you're waiting, check out this story, which talks a bit about a bill in the Texas legislature proposing that the ban on concealed handguns on college campus be lifted, so students and professors can be packing heat. That oughta' add some spice to discussions of who benefits from overhead costs!

**No, I haven't forgotten about those of you in the Social Sciences. It's just that your departments and research types can variously be more like the sciences (needs a lab and student assistants/postdocs) or the humanities (solitary work, need time to research and write) that I just don't think I should generalize. Feel free to read yourself into either group, or post "third option" viewpoints as you see appropriate.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Humanities People Like Money, Too!

I volunteered for a new university committee and, gods help me, they accepted me.

Here's what it is: the "University Research Advisory Council." They've put out a call for two faculty members (for all I know, we are the council), and I felt strongly that the Humanities needed to be represented. So I volunteered.

Here's my backstory: when I went to apply for my big fellowships, I had to go through this process that involved, among many other offices, the Office of University Research, and I quickly discovered that that office had no freakin' clue when it came to Humanities grants. I first had to convince them that, as a medievalist, I probably didn't need to go through the Human Subjects paperwork. Once that was done, there was the process of the grants themselves. I was told that the university probably wouldn't support anything but "high-dollar" grants. Again, fifteen minutes spent convincing them that they shouldn't hold their breath for me to find some mythical $100K grant for Humanities research. It was then suggested that I only apply for "high-profile" fellowships. An actual quote: "If you got a Guggenheim, we'd support it," followed not two minutes later by, "So... What does 'ACLS' stand for?"

Now, if you're not a Humanities person, I don't expect that you'd know what all these things mean, nor should you. But if you are the designated person to help faculty navigate the grants process, here are some randomly-selected things you might be aware of:
  • Guggenheim fellowships are not something that a junior scholar working on their very first book just goes out and gets. They tend to go to people working on second or (more often) third books, and to scholars who already have an established record of grant-getting.
  • ACLS is kind of a big deal.
  • $30-40K for a junior-level humanities fellowship is a lot of money, and you should please not tell faculty members that they are "wasting their time" in applying for these.
If these are foreign concepts to our university's research office, then what other potentially damaging areas of ignorance might be lurking out there? I decided that I needed to actually see if I could do something about this.

So here I am, half of a faculty advisory council, and here's my preliminary mission:
  • Increase awareness among University Research Office personnel about the research money available, and about what constitutes a good investment, and most importantly, about why scholars in the humanities (especially those with high teaching loads) need to be supported when they apply for time to research and write.
  • Get someone in the office who knows Humanities funding, and who can help faculty identify and apply for funding -- and not just NEH funding.
  • Make the application process more transparent and easy to navigate: if you want us to fill out a form, don't just e-mail us a spreadsheet with no instructions or guidelines and then tell us you are doing it to "empower" faculty.
  • Finally: Eradicate, once and for all, the odious term "grantswinsmanship" from all university materials.

There's probably more to do, and I'm sure I'll figure it out. But dammit, this is important.