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Archive for the ‘tactless observations’ Category

One of the concepts I always had difficulties getting across to undergraduates was the idea of opportunity costs — not how expensive something was in cash terms, but “If you are doing X, you are not doing Y.  What are the consequences or losses associated with not doing Y?”  Not everyone is immediately skilled at shifting between foreground and background, or positive/negative space.

Not doing “Y” could be any number of things.  Not clearing a desk. Not mowing the lawn.  Not paying attention to the news.  Not acting on what you know. All of these things have consequences, and some of those are less trivial than others.

Sometimes there are reasons you can connect the not-done actions to larger things, but not always. Not thinking about retirement because the world is on fire.  Not relaxing in a quiet moment because you’re already contrasting it with the chaos that seems just beyond the next news cycle. Not replacing worn linoleum because you don’t want to know what’s under there. Not discarding an old T-shirt because you’re still amused that it lasted longer than the job where you got it.

“Why are we focusing on what we aren’t doing?” demands a student. “What good is it to spend time listing out all the things we might be doing instead?”

“Because it reminds us that what we are doing is a choice.  It reminds us that there might be other options.  There might be a different way…”

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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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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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Yow!

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YOW!

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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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VintageNeckTies

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