Archive for June, 2012

“In the outskirts
And in the fringes
On the edge
And off the avenue…”

“And if you want me
You can find me
Left of center
Wondering about you..” — Joe Jackson/Suzanne Vega

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of Robin Fight Club is

….there is no Robin Fight Club.

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“….there is potentially an issue with censored sample bias because we obviously could not obtain patient satisfaction data for patients who died.”

Circulation, Feb 2010

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Although I do have some teaching projects in the works, for the most part I don’t miss the academy. Just skimmed an article that manages to start from the grumbly “Where are our promised jet packs and colonies on the Moon?” to “What happened to the quirky geniuses who were supposed to be inventing these things in their University labs?”

…The last thirty years have seen a veritable explosion of the proportion of working hours spent on administrative tasks at the expense of pretty much everything else. In my own university, for instance, we have more administrators than faculty members, and the faculty members, too, are expected to spend at least as much time on administration as on teaching and research combined. The same is true, more or less, at universities worldwide.

The growth of administrative work has directly resulted from introducing corporate management techniques. Invariably, these are justified as ways of increasing efficiency and introducing competition at every level. What they end up meaning in practice is that everyone winds up spending most of their time trying to sell things: grant proposals; book proposals; assessments of students’ jobs and grant applications; assessments of our colleagues; prospectuses for new interdisciplinary majors; institutes; conference workshops; universities themselves (which have now become brands to be marketed to prospective students or contributors); and so on.

As marketing overwhelms university life, it generates documents about fostering imagination and creativity that might just as well have been designed to strangle imagination and creativity in the cradle. No major new works of social theory have emerged in the United States in the last thirty years. We have been reduced to the equivalent of medieval scholastics, writing endless annotations of French theory from the seventies, despite the guilty awareness that if new incarnations of Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, or Pierre Bourdieu were to appear in the academy today, we would deny them tenure.

There was a time when academia was society’s refuge for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical. No longer. It is now the domain of professional self-marketers. As a result, in one of the most bizarre fits of social self-destructiveness in history, we seem to have decided we have no place for our eccentric, brilliant, and impractical citizens. Most languish in their mothers’ basements, at best making the occasional, acute intervention on the Internet. — David Graeber

He doesn’t mention that it’s easier to add sushi to the dining hall menu or build a new basketball arena than it is to get faculty agreement to enforce plagiarism rules, or the order in which classes ought to be taken so student skills build usefully over time.  Ah, but I know.  And I’m sure some of you do, too.

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Good morning!

I’m talking to my phone. There’s a certain amount of hilarity to that activity, because about 35 years ago, my grandfather had a reputation for using all clients [kinds] of strange gadgets and then expecting us to be impressed by this latest accomplishment. One afternoon, we got a telephone call during we couldn’t hear him very well, but he proudly announced that “I’m talking to the television!  I’m sitting in my chair, and I don’t have to get up to use the phone, because I can talk to you through the television!

And he was, really, talking to the television. There was some newfangled product that enables him to speak at his very large television stereo console and have the telephone system pick up the audio.  Actually, he was shouting at the television, but we played along, and eventually, this became a family meme, so that people would randomly announce “I’m talking to the coffee maker!”, “I’m talking to the fridge!”, “You won’t believe this but, I’m talking to the sink…”, “Live: from your lawnmower!”

It would be more accurate to say that right now I’m talking to my Dragon,  because that is the transcription system that I’m using. And it’s more fun to say that I am talking to a small Dragon, rather than to just an iPhone.


I haven’t used transcription in several years, partly because (and I know this is pathetic) I couldn’t get the battery case open on the expletive-deleted Parrot DX equipment. The phone arrangement works pretty nicely, and I don’t have to buy a $400 microphone system in addition to the already lovely price for the iPhone!

Now I get to practice my steady ‘news reader’ voice, and Word will again remind me that we should set up some excuse for my vocals to go onto other people’s voicemail machines.  I’m not as resonant as Carl Kasell or Ken Nordine, but I’ll accept the blandishments…

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