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Archive for the ‘Backstory’ Category

Fisk!

Nam nam fisk!

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In my everyday work-life, I have to protect my colleagues from predators.  Predatory publishers.  Parasites, might be a better descriptor, because under the guise of “providing opportunity”, some of these organizations steer otherwise clever scholars into self-defeating situations.  Sure, a line on a vitae is a fine brass ring to grab, but what if it’s more like fairy gold, a flash that fades away when the sun bears down upon it?  For what have you sold your reputation and credibility?

Academia Gateway Edit

But there may be a larger problem…. a break somewhere in the scholarly community.  I came up in a world where you presented ideas at conferences and in poster sessions before you ever tried publishing a research article or review.  Friends, colleagues, and strangers all battle-tested your ideas before a publisher ever took notice, or before you ever got round to writing a book proposal.

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Did that kind of training stop?  Or have the predatory publishers offered a quick route to “getting a journal article” that bled scholars off that route?  “Why go through those gatekeepers and hurdles? — Here’s a little niche journal that will let you say whatever you want.”

The reward structure in academia that says “presentations are nice, but publications get you tenure”, falls right into the trap. And who has the standing [or the time] to intervene?

I dislike being the Clue Fairy in these settings; I really do.

Although I’m not the only one who’s been trying.  See here for one of the current listing sites: Stop Predatory Journals

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Some things are more possible when many things are in motion — for instance — if you put two avid readers into one house, there will be bookshelves, but then there will eventually be book gridlock.  All the spaces have been filled, and you can’t sort what’s there easily because there’s no place to put them during the process, other than the floor, and that leads to madness.

And tripping.

And cats perching on the stacks, swatting at you as you go by, because they suddenly think your hamstrings are going to be easier to cut from this new angle.

[Not really]

But behold!  New bookshelves have arrived for Christmas, which frees up space for sorting!

Do I still need 5 years of Specialty Coffee Retailer in hardcopy?  Well, maybe not. 

Do I need the Curriculum guides from that last department?  Oh, hell no.  So there’s 5 more feet of shelf-space reclaimed, and I can think about bringing certain items down from the attic while sending others up there, out of the way, since I’m not going to be teaching freshman comp again anytime soon.

Music for shelfreading: Choral Polyphony.

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Chronicle Higher Ed poster v2

Original source: Chronicle of Higher Education

If you can pinpoint which issue from this summer the original art appeared, so I can acknowledge the artist properly, that would be wonderful!

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IMG_6851Some years ago, I got home at 4 in the morning and wondered (for at least two pages of tight handwritten text) what the other kids were doing.  Were they going to the shore?  Were any of them really in love enough to go do the things those songs were about? (Granted, it was charmingly naive of me to think that love was required to get teenagers to do that…)  But I didn’t spend nearly so much time on that kind of wondering, because most of my brain was occupied trying to splice the experience that I had: fancy dress, fancy food, elaborate setting, dancing — at first in the assigned place with my date, and then later at a much less legal setting with a friend who eventually became a splendid drag queen — with the rapturous descriptions of what THE PROM was supposed to be like.

I did not have the magical phrase “WTF?” at my disposal.  And I wasn’t angry, or desperately disappointed… I was just …bemused.

That night, I felt as if I had ticked a checkmark into a box on a form that was required for The Standard U.S. High School Experience. Pictures had been taken, and clothes had been bought/rented, makeup applied (by others, because this was still theatre)… I watched people eat very rare prime rib from each other’s plates, I endured a very long slow dance with someone who I hope has long since found a nice straight girl, etc…

In subsequent years, there have been other dances, and other occassions for fancy dress.  But even my own wedding didn’t really combine these ingredients in a way that felt like I’d had all the pieces in hand.  I could dance with the wrong person, with a somewhat not right person, I could get a decent tux, I could identify which music I liked, I could look fierce and fine, I could be with the RIGHT person, but not get all those ‘right’ details together at the same time.

And yet.

The hope of surpassing what was possible in the past, particularly in the face of things that threaten to make things worse, is always there.

So when the opportunity does, finally, come around, you get your tux and fancy dress in order, buy the bid, get the hotel room, have a sumptuous double-dating dinner, get well-wishes from the bartender….

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You see other queer couples walking through town, and everyone is smiling and waving at each other.  We see you, you see us; we’re here!  The music is loud, the lighting is dramatic, there is glitter EVERYWHERE… People are happy.  People are fabulous. Couples disco, and tango, and line dance, and kiss. Not everyone is there as a couple, but it’s a different kind of grouping or singleness than what we remember from trying to go to dances as a group, or stag, or in any unconventional configuration that would let us thread the needle of access without too much compromise.

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No compromises tonight.  No kings or queens are chosen; we each earned our crowns long before we walked through those ballroom doors.

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Old Door Old Railroad Town

The warehouse has been empty so long that the floor joists have rotted…but the shell is still here, and the town seems to be gentrifying just up the block.  So maybe this will be repointed, and revived as…something other than a place for swifts and swallows to hide, in between their forays down to the waterfront to chase the mayflies and junebugs?

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SpringTreeBlossomsI would tell you that “two way streets are two way streets”, in a way more meaningful than “Brexit means Brexit” or “OATH-with-a-blue-colon says away more about that merger than anyone should admit in polite company.”

I would tell you that the sunrise has shifted northwards, such that the glare can still wake me, but I don’t get any of the lovely gold-red glow to go with my insomnia and the boisterous dawn chorus of [possibly tasty] wrens, titmice, and robins.

I would tell you that taxes are preferable to death, at least so long as the arts and sciences still get funding.Purple croci pair.jpg

I would tell you tulips, and daffodils, and finally, blessedly, honeybees and carpenter bees; crinkled green leaves on the raspberry canes and tongue-colored fists of peony leaves punching up at the sky.

I would tell you that I wish people would say plainly what they want other people to know, but I have this fondness for truth, so we might need to edit that wish a bit, depending on who is doing the speaking at any given time.

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