Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Found Objects: What You Need To Subpoena From My Zenith Computer Today

I was hanging out this morning using my university computer to download BDSM pornography and order Angela Davis posters (paid for out of my research account, of course) when I decided to take a break and check up on what my other radical colleagues were doing.

They've been busy!  So without further ado:
  • The Facts, Ma'am.  Jon Wiener, from his perch at The Nation, asks:  "What does it take to become the target of this kind of attack?"  Wiener points out that Cronon is "not Bill Ayers," but a self-avowed political centrist who published "a simple fact" that Republicans in Wisconsin did not want revealed:  their close ties to a group that drafts union-busting legislation and creates public relations strategies for passing that legislation. This fact, Wiener argues, "disrupts the Republicans’ explanation of what they are doing in Wisconsin. They say the new law there ending collective bargaining with public employee unions is an emergency response to this year’s fiscal crisis." However, "the goal is not to protect the little guy in Wisconsin but rather to help the big corporations that fund Republican operations."  Read the whole article here.  
  • It's Being A Professor Who Thinks That Is The Problem.  One issue that we need to resurrect is the neo-liberal charge that tenure promotes the prolonged employment of "dead wood" professors.  Clearly, it is Cronon's failure to become dead wood that has made him notorious and, as it turns out, dead wood profs aren't the ch!cks and d00ds that some right-winger wants to light up after all.  No, no: some poor, defeated old sot, shuffling off to class with a tattered little set of notes after a nip too many turns out to be our ideal scholar.  Tony Grafton, that guy you saw flying by your office window in a red cape, and with a big "H" on his scholarly chest, nails it in the New Yorker blog when he reminds us that, unlike politicians, historians are responsible for researching and relating the truth, and the truth sometimes hurts.  As Grafton concludes, "the Republicans seem remarkably fragile. A professor writing a blog post gives them the shivers. It’s a good thing they chose politics, and not the kind of career where the going can really get rough. Professors, for example, teach their hearts out to surly adolescents who call them boring in course evaluations and write their hearts out for colleagues who trash their books in snarky reviews. These Wisconsin Republicans may never have survived ordeals like that. Happily, Cronon has been toughened by decades of academic life. He’ll be blogging—and teaching and writing—long after Wisconsin voters have sent these Republicans back to obscurity."  
(Which reminds me that I have students standing around my office door growling in a menacing way and shaking pitchforks at me as a reminder that I should be using my Zenith computer to get their grading done right now!)  OK, one more:
  • Yes, Historians Actually Care About The Rights Of All Working People.  Eileen Boris is in the business section of the HuffPo this week, which you probably missed as you were clicking through to the ads for package tours to Cuba.  Boris asks us to celebrate Women's History Month and commemorate the Triangle Factory Fire by reminding ourselves that the vast majority of working class women, and men, are no longer employed in an industrial workplace.  While guaranteeing the basic employment rights of household workers are becoming the subject of new legislation, Boris points out, "one group of household laborers remains apart -- those paid by governments to care for needy elderly and disabled people. The California proposal explicitly excludes In Home Supportive Service workers, the type of worker whose omission from federal law the Supreme Court upheld in 2007 and the Obama administration has yet to rectify through new labor regulations. Meanwhile, Republican governors, as in Wisconsin, are eliminating collective bargaining for home care workers. An irony of current struggles might be that these public employees end up with fewer rights and poorer conditions than those who labor for individual housewives." 
As Women's History Month draws to a close, we at chez Radical admit that we have done little to celebrate it, so here's my proposal:  I would like to nominate Bill Cronon as an Honorary Woman.  This is one of the few awards available to historians that he has not received, and I think it is time.  Do we have a second?  Thank you, Historiann!  All in favor?

The aye's have it!  Sorry, Wisconsin GOP.  You lose again!


Historiann said...

I don't know about this "honorary woman" concept. Is Cronon willing to accept an immediate 20-25% pay cut? Is he willing to hear new criticisms of his work, criticisms that never existed when his books and articles were thought to have been written by a man? Is he tough enough to be physically unsafe or even vulnerable to physical and sexual assault in places he previously has strode through manfully as a pedestrian without a second thought? Does he have a plan for an escort or ride service if he leaves his office or university library after dark? Is he emotionally prepared for some of his glowing teaching evaluations from Badger students to suddenly make nasty comments about his wardrobe, his body, his wrinkles, and facial hair grooming?

I don't know too many men who would be willing to do what it takes to be a woman. And, personally, I don't think it's incumbent on us to celebrate Women's History Month on our blogs in March, when for us it's Women's History Month all year long.

Tenured Radical said...

Well now you can see a little glimpse of an alter ego that rarely sees the light of day" swift democracy as good democracy.

I think being an honorary woman is kind of like being an honorary degree holder. But you are, of course, right about all those things.

Dorothy Potter Snyder said...

And of course only I, having been there when you were a little TR, truly know the unforgettable tone of voice in which TR utters "You lose again!" Some sharp thinking coated with good laughs. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

As a followup to Historiann, is Cronon willing to be called "bimbo", "dumb twat" and "c**t" by Bill Maher, as Sarah Palin has been recently?


::rachel mattson:: said...

Just a little sidebar, meanwhile, meanwhile: I love Eileen Boris but won't be going over to the Huffington Post to read her article. Why? Because a group of regular HuffPo writers have decided to go on strike to protest the institution's many abuses against its writers. I want to support them, to not cross the picket line so to speak-- and so I don't click on or read Huffington Post articles anymore.

It seems like not enough people know about either a)this strike or b)the crap labor politics of the HuffPo itself. So i thought i'd mention it here in your comments section, Tenured Radical.

For more about on this see http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/17/newspaper-guild-huffington-post-strike/

Sisyphus said...

Ooh, thanks for the Angela Davis poster link! Will save for when I have some pocket money.

And a labor historian appearing in a venue that is currently under a strike? D'oh! Sorry, I read it, because I like Boris's stuff, but I will go read more up on this labor dispute. Seems to hinge on the definition of blogging?

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Following on the heels of the Wisconsin GOP, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has now filed open record requests for emails by labor studies faculty at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Wayne State: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/in-michigan-conservative-think-tank-seeks-labor-prof-emails.php

Tenured Radical said...

UE: ooh! ouch!

Jack: Why is anyone allowed to use that language, on TV, or anywhere else in public? I don't get this.

Rachel: Thanks for this -- didn't know. Maybe when I'm finished my &%$@*& grading tomorrow I'll have time to read again.

Sisyphus: Only $20 for a framed photo of AD!! It's a steal!

Brian: Those a$$hats. What a way to spend public $$.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Sorry for the multiple deletions: I posted about Michigan before I saw that Brian had already done so. So let me just say: excellent post, TR! It's been too long since someone has caused me to laugh out loud about this deteriorating situation. Tell me that these efforts aren't really gaining traction outside a small but noisy faction within the Republican party?

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Notorious: I fear that these open records act/FOIA requests are only the tip of the iceberg. I did some research this afternoon, and the only state that explicitly excluded universities from open records requirements is Pennsylvania: http://www.ogc.pitt.edu/faq.html#7

As a state university professor (whose university policy does explicitly allow for occasional personal use of university email), I've been careful to separate my professional and personal email--but I'm still irritated by the notion that the emails I've exchanged with colleagues, on campus or across the world, about organizing conference sessions, editing collected volumes, etc. might be considered public records. And what about the emails I've sent where I have sent candid assessments of journal article submissions or tenure files?

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Whoops - I meant to write "the only state that I found that explicitly excluded..."

Anonymous said...

Thank you, TR, for having this discussion. Meanwhile, here are the words that trigger FOIA requests for professors' emails in MI right now:

"Scott Walker"; "Wisconsin"; "Madison"; "Maddow"

My suggestion (and I'm serious) - how about if all of us start using those words as the signature to every university email we send. You want to FOIA my email? Fine, read 'em all. Every last one. Have fun with that.

And the Mackinac Center, which issued the FOIA in MI, also FOIA'd emails from some 200 MI k-12 school districts, on the suspicion that some of them might be talking about (not doing, just talking) labor stoppages, too. Heaven forbid, that public employees talk about anything controversial, especially in schools. We know that schools should be thoroughly sanitized so learning can occur.

- Ticked off in MI

Historiann said...

Heh. Like Michigan can afford to lose any more of its population! Just give its teachers and professors another reason to join the rest of us in the Sun Belt.

(I grew up in NW OH and SE MI, so I know whereof I write, and I'm writing on yet another bright, sunshiny day here in Colorado.)

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