Friday, January 31, 2014


Anaheim Albert Sends In This Speedy Rant.

All of my teaching takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays. I've been teaching 12 years, and this is a schedule that makes me happy.

Yesterday, an amiable departmental assistant says to me, "It must be so nice to only work 2 days a week."

I didn't kill her. But I wanted to. Just like I want to kill anyone who says that to me. I do something for my job seven days a week. I absolutely spend hours every day of the semester working on my job, grading, reading, preparing, dealing with students.

Even during winter and summer breaks I work on this, writing, publishing, updating courses with new books, assignments, etc.

Yet, I've never met a layperson who didn't think I was just a lazy motherfucker who worked two days a week.

A Friday Thirsty from Dr. Amelia About Grade Inflation.

So the latest adminiflake e-mail at Abilene House of Learnin and Pancakes is admonishing the faculty for too many As. This seems deserved - if the stats are correct, we gave 1/3 of the students A+/A/A- last term and I know for sure that in my classes, they were not all geniuses.

The provost, Dr. Aflake, wants faculty input. Should we have a quota system? Should we publish each proffie's grade distribution so students who want to learn more can take harder proffies? Should we deny cost of living raises to proffies who give too many high marks.

Dr. Amelia, she of non-existent tenure, has an idea. Declare a secret (to the flakes) amnesty for the faculty for the next three years. The scores on student evaluations will not be considered in faculty evaluations until the current crop is flushed from the system. This can be concurrent with faculty discussion/experimentation on higher standards and tougher grading, which faculty can participate in without fear of repercussions for being tough or the only one who is tough. In other words, agree that the administration won't use evaluation scores as a sole or even major criteria for evaluation of classroom expertise. We can start over with the freshies in 4 years.

After all, research shows that expected grades and evaluations are, in fact positively correlated AND that faculty have the strong opinion that this is the case.

Q: So being of the non-existent tenure, Dr. Amelia should keep her mouth shut and continue to bring chocolate on evaluation days, correct?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

7 Million.


While elsewhere Frod and Hiram try to ruin the fucking page by once again debating humanities and sciences (Kumbaya singing and hugs vs. egotistical spittle-laden lectures with healthy contempt), we crossed the 7 million hit barrier with a click from someone whose IP I don't recognize from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, eh?

Thanks to the folks who are left. I'm sure the page will close for good later this week, and it couldn't come a fucking minute sooner.

I Skyped with Fab this afternoon to let him know we were breaching those zeroes and he said, "Huzzah!"

A Misery Playlet in One Scene. Sent in By Compost.

Overheard in the faculty offices:

Snowflake: I noticed that you haven't done much grading.

Proffie: Well, you need to turn in some work before I am able to grade it.


[Fade to black.]

This Week's Big Thirsty. Patty in Plano Wondrers, "What Are You Doing About Textbook Costs?"

College textbooks are too expensive, say students, and they want other options
from the Cleveland Plain Dealer

More than 65 percent of college students say they have not bought a textbook because of its high price and nearly half say that textbook costs can dictate whether they take a course, according to a report by student Public Interest Research Groups.

Over the past decade, college textbook prices have increased by 82 percent, or three times the rate of inflation, making them one of the biggest out of pocket expenses for students and families, according to the report, “Fixing the Broken Textbooks Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives,” released this week by the Ohio PIRG Education Fund.

Students pay an average of $1,200 on books and supplies each year, according to the College Board. In fall 2013, student research groups surveyed 2,039 students from more than 150 campuses in 33 states, including Ohio, about college textbooks. A majority of students said they want other options than having to purchase textbooks.

more misery...

from Patty...

The article above is one I've read a bunch of times over the past few years. I remember the first time I had sticker shock as I walked through the campus bookstore and realized my students were paying more than $300 for my assigned books, including 2 that I really didn't use very much.

I started to spend more time each break figuring out how to cut costs. There are all kinds of ways to do this.

Q: Do you know, within $20 or so, what your texts cost your students? Do you think that's reasonable? If not, what are you doing about textbook costs? Share any and all ideas below in the whinging section, er, the comments!

The Adventures of Dr. Molly!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today on Prof. Facepalm: Snowbound!

Thanks to a brief bout with the flu and, of course, the snow (which is caused by liberal policies, I am pleased to learn from eavesdropping on some folks at the local convenience store), my Monday-Wednesday class will have only met once by the end of this, the second week of class.

If it were any other class, I would be anxious about this, worried about the content I'll have to cut out to keep us on schedule. But this is a watered-down Humanities survey aimed at two-year-degree students who will never, ever pick up a history book or great work of literature again in their lives. So how bad a teacher am I if I frankly don't think it'll make a whit of difference if we don't cover this important event or that great work of art?

Of course, I'm also not really all that concerned about my lack of concern... but meta-anxiety about my professional commitment will have to wait for another post.

The ABC’s Of Beyonce? Rutgers University Offers ‘Politicizing Beyonce’ Course.

Beyoncé taking center stage at the GRAMMYs is one thing, but in a classroom?

Apparently, Sasha Fierce is making her mark at Rutgers.

A course called “Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé,” is being offered at the New Brunswick, N.J. university and taught by PhD student Kevin Allred.

Allred is a doctoral student and lecturer in the school’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. He told the Rutgers Today newspaper the idea for the course stemmed from his four semesters teaching Women’s Studies 101.

“This isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend,” Allred said. “Rather, the performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics.”

More misery.

We failed students 'for years'. From CNN.

The University of North Carolina failed some of its students "for years" by allowing them to take classes that did not match its own academic standards, Chancellor Carol Folt has admitted.

The concession -- the strongest since UNC-Chapel Hill was caught up in a fake-class scandal two years ago -- comes just weeks after a CNN investigation found continuing problems at UNC and other public universities where some student-athletes could read only at an elementary school level.

Two years ago, it was exposed that UNC students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they did not attend and for which they did nothing beyond turning in a single paper. One professor has been indicted on fraud charges for being paid for a class he didn't teach.

The university has always maintained it was an isolated case, but Folt is now acknowledging a broader problem.

"We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue," Folt told UNC trustees last week.

"This, too, was wrong. And it has undermined our integrity and our reputation."

CNN has asked UNC Chapel Hill for the number of students who were specially admitted because they did not meet the usual academic standards and who majored in or took the classes now acknowledged as fake.

CNN investigated the issue of poor academics among student football and basketball players after a researcher at UNC revealed that some could not read well enough to follow news coverage about themselves or even read the word "Wisconsin."

The rest of the misery.

The Adventures of Molly...

Hi. Apologies up front. This is a "groaner," an actual line my late father said to me one day. He was a smashing fellow who never missed a chance to try and make me laugh at all the things I was SO serious about...  This is for you, Stan...


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Now, I'm drunk and about to piss my pants or cry.  The NFL is going to pay its meager penance--less than a billion dollars to get pardoned for scrambling lots of people's brains for decades.  So from now on, the NFL will be able to say, "Listen, shithead, we paid good money to have you get dementia, so you damned well better get it.  AND THAT RIGHT SOON.  Stop whining.  You have no excuse.  We paid."

The real solution, of course, is to stop the barbarism.  This so-called "solution" will only increase it.

And don't we do the same thing in higher ed?

Fucking sabotage.

Don't waste your time being honest.  There's not an honest person in this mess.

eUnice in Urbana Sends This Along.

I followed the #fuckPhyllis debacle last night, and now have seen a lot of news coverage about it. I read your page nearly every week and thought you'd like a report.

It's cold in Urbana. I had students in my 8 am wearing hoodies and nothing else. Nobody is playing hacky sack, but it's just...fucking...winter.

University Of Illinois Students Respond To No Snow Day With Racism, Sexism On Twitter. ** With an Update From the Daily Illini. **

While elementary, high school and college students across Chicago are enjoying a day off because of the severe weather, not everyone is following suit. Downstate at the University of Illinois, Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced that classes would be in session Monday.

This, naturally, didn't go over well with much of the student body.

"Classes are cancelled. Well, some of them." A Meteorologic Early Thirsty From the TShirt Prof.

'Tis the season for mass cancellations!

Ah, that time of year when local K-12 schools close and flakes suddenly become research experts on all things meteorological.  (colleagues too)

Here at Comprehensive Regional Midwest U, the administration (wisely) decided to cancel classes yesterday, but managed to utterly mangle the message.  We got an email that read "AM/PM classes cancelled, campus closed until noon, monitor local TV stations for more information and updates."

It appears that the intent was to hold evening classes - but no one really knows what constitutes an evening class.

Oh, and the TV stations didn't even try to figure it out.  They all just said that classes were cancelled for the day.

The temperature is forecast to recover to the single digits today...below zero.  Classes as scheduled!

Q: My question to you is - what would you do with a "day off"?

Me, I wrote an email to be sent to the whole campus about assessment and upcoming accreditation. Oh yeah!

Final note: in a long email chain complaining about the mangled communication, a proffie somehow managed to connect bad messaging to the holocaust.

The Adventures of Dr. Molly Continue. Thank God.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Adventures of Molly!

Adjunct Equity Bill in Colorado House of Representatives.

A community member has sent this in:

Jesus would never
be on the tenure track.
Here's the PDF of the bill as it's currently being considered.

The Adjunct Equity Bill would help create equal pay for equal work at Colorado community colleges: adjunct instructors would be paid the same per-section compensation as full-time tenured instructors. This would significantly increase teaching compensation for adjunct instructors at community colleges, so that full-time teachers would be able to make a living wage. 

To illustrate the potential impact of this bill: the submitter was paid $1,974/section at a community college less than ten miles from a state university, where s/he was paid $3,974/section for the exact same course in the same academic year. This was less than three years ago. The average full-time 9-month faculty salary at the time was about $49,000. Assuming a full load of four sections per semester for two semesters, average full-time faculty compensation per section would have been over $6,000.

This bill would also likely indirectly impact adjunct compensation at the state universities. The argument that instructors at the state's community colleges make far less than university adjuncts make has been wielded in response to pushes for higher university adjunct pay. If community college instructors were to make a decent wage, then the universities might offer more competitive and equitable compensation as well. 

The bill is sponsored by State Representative Randy Fischer and State Senator John Kefalas, both known in the state's higher ed communities for their engagement with adjunct concerns. People who are interested in showing support for this bill should write to members of the State Affairs committee. The deadline for reporting the bill out of the first house committee is February 6. The bill will be heard on Monday, February 3rd at 1:30 pm.

The Rare Sunday Thirsty, But It's Okay. It Satisfies the Arcane Rule Left By Our Elders That the Query Must Touch On the Spiritual Side of the Academic Career. And It Has to Be on Sunday. That's the Other Thing.

Sacramento Samuel sends this in:

Okay, I feel as though I may sound a bit like a whiner, but I promise I come to this august group with a pure and open heart.

I work in the Humanities. I know, sucker. But I tread on some pretty rarefied research areas, and I simply love what I do. (This is not about teaching. I could do an hour on teaching some other time.)

A very big part of my success at this university is based on my research and scholarship. It's noted as 3/5ths in the T&P material.

Fine, I work hard. I write long pieces about somewhat tricky stuff, and occasionally, very occasionally, the journals I work with take one and I feel as if I've scaled a mountain. I don't want to give too much away, but there are editors I work with you will absolutely sit on something for a year at a time before letting me know it's not going to make it. It's the nature of a few specialized journals my work is best suited for, and it is something I understand. (My academic mentors work in the same field and I saw their waits firsthand as a grad student.)

So, I'm okay with it. I think I'll publish enough over this 7 year period (2 years in) to make tenure.

But here's the whiny part. I have two colleagues. They are roughly in the same discipline as me, but all of their stuff is focused on "digital literacies." They write tiny pieces, and publish quickly, regularly, sometimes even in print. (Okay, that I couldn't help.) Their names appear in a division newsletter nearly every month with another publication. That these things are often online only, or full of infographics and cartoons, doesn't come up. They get the back slaps and the shout-outs from our young and vibrating new President.

I don't harbor any real resentment about my colleagues. I don't wish them ill. But I honestly worry that my own work pales compared to their shiny (and regular) pubs.

Q: Will my much different scholarship profile get judged on its own? Should I be re-thinking some of what I write about, and to whom I pitch pieces to, based on a quicker turnaround? Should I try to recalibrate my interests to hook up to some of the newer digital literacies? Am I foolish to worry? Should I put the bottle down?

The Sunday Open Thread. Let Loose. Nobody's Reading Anyway.

The best seven years of my life!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Please provide a citation for your statement, good sir.

As I've said before, I work on a fully unionized campus.  For the most part, faculty and staff alike reap the benefits of years of strong negotiations.

But there is also a bit of institutionalized diffusion of expertise. For example, whenever a university committee is populated, it is the faculty union that decides who gets to sit on the committee and this is always done by a vote from the larger organizational unit.  In other words, there is a delegation where one member of each college represents the whole college.  All union members in that college get to vote.  At no point are qualifications for said committee ever considered, unless you cast your vote thoughtfully.

And of course, there is rarely more than one person running for an empty seat.

I chair a committee, a pretty powerful one.  I was elected to this committee with a grand total of one vote (my own).  Let my reign of terror commence!

Coverage of Nonexistent Hookup Culture Makes Students Feel Left Out of Nonexistent Hookup Culture. From Slate, Although Clearly Titled By Someone Who Could Work Here.

Anti-hookup culture screeds have been a staple of publishing for more than a decade. They all identify “hookup culture” as a college campus scourge and seek to tone it down or eliminate it completely. As Amanda Hess pointed out last April in Slate, hookup culture—college as a four-year, alcohol-fueled orgy—is a canard: Fewer than 15 percent of college students hook up more than twice a year. Another truth published in Slate: The hookup culture that does exist is largely a wealthy and white phenomenon.

A new study set to be published in the February issue of the journal Sociological Perspectives shows that the media focus on college hookup culture—whether positive or negative—just solidifies the idea among students that college involves hooking up, whether it really does or not.


The Adventures of Molly!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Four Suspects Sought in Shooting Death of South Carolina State University Student. From ABC News.

A South Carolina State University student has died after being shot in an on-campus dormitory, police said.

South Carolina State University Campus Police Chief Mernard Clarkson said authorities are searching for four suspects who left campus after the shooting.

The student's name has not been released. Descriptions of the suspects have not been released.

Hiram Is Baffled, and He's Turned It Into a Friday Thirsty.

A construction project on our campus has bought the folks from History into our building. We see each other in the common areas and in a big faculty lounge.

It's cold here today, teeth chattering cold.

And this begins:

History Guy: Boy, this cold is ridiculous. Hope those global warming nuts are paying attention.
Hiram: What do you mean?
HG: Well, it can't be this cold if the planet is heating up like they say.
Hiram: Well, actually one of the chief elements of climate change is extreme weather, you know, like what we've been having.
HG: Where do you get that from?
Hiram: Uh, I don't know, just reading things, I guess.
HG: You'll never convince me. Just look at it out there!
Hiram: Didn't you see in the paper that 2013 was the 4th hottest year on the planet?
HG: Whose statistics are that?
Hiram: I guess the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
HG: Yeah, but all of those think tanks are biased, all liberals. They get all their funding from Obama.


Q: What concept that you understand and believe is commonly misunderstood by your students, colleagues, neighbors? Do you ever try to correct these misunderstandings? Do you ever just want to move where Yaro is and be with the trees?

Ethics Professor Arrested For Allegedly Attacking Pregnant Fiancée — Who Was Also His Student.

A Baton Rouge Community College ethics professor was arrested last week for allegedly attacking his pregnant fiancée — who he met while teaching her philosophy class, The Times-Picayune reports.

42-year-old philosophy professor Robby Burleigh and his fiancé reportedly got in an argument because he didn't want her to have the baby.

According to The Times-Picayune, "Burleigh's fiancée told police that he threw her to the floor, pinned her down and broke her phone so she couldn't call for help. She said he also dragged her across the floor to a gunsafe and told her 'You're going to commit suicide today.'"

More misery.


Actual RMP quotes:

  • Super laid back. 
  • Super cool teacher. 
  • Really laid back. 
  • Understanding, helpful, & funny. 
  • Seems to really enjoy his job & students!
  • Great professor. 
  • Really laid back and cool. 
  • Would definitely take another class with him. 
  • Plus he's really hot.

From the Home Office In Ogden: Taboo Talks Discusses Shame Culture.

Weber State Confessions is a Facebook page where users anonymously post their secrets, rants or just random thoughts about their personal lives or issues on campus.

When a woman posted  that she thought she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do, the first response read in part, “Maybe you should stop whoring around . . .”

The Weber State University Center for Diversity and Unity’s monthly Taboo Talks discussed this comment, and other forms of “shame culture,” on Wednesday afternoon.

Shame culture is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a culture in which conformity of behavior is maintained through the individual’s fear of being shamed.

“One way to look at shame culture is a way of controlling the boundaries of what’s acceptable,” said Pepper Glass, a professor of sociology who was on the panel.

More shame.

The Adventures of Molly, the New Sociology Proffie...

Anderson Cooper Tears Racist College Students To Shreds. From HuffPo.

Anderson Cooper might have said it best when he called a group of college students "morons" for the way they decided to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Arizona State University is under fire after it held a racist "MLK Blackout" party that involved people wearing basketball jerseys and drinking from watermelon cups.

"Now I know you don't want to believe that something so racist and ignorant could actually happen in 2014," Cooper began on Thursday. "Frankly, it would be easier to pretend someone got the story wrong. After all there's no proof that this happened, right? There is. In fact they posted pictures of the party on Instagram with hash tags like happy MLK day, homies and blackout for MLK!"


No Tenure=Better Teaching? From BU Today.

A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University found that non-tenure-track lecturers at that school were superior to tenure-track faculty at spurring first-year students to pursue further study in a topic—and in preparing them to get better grades in the follow-up class. The results were most pronounced among the least academically gifted students.


Some Colleges Tell Students If And When They Can Have Sex. From HuffPo.

Should colleges have a say in students' sexual activity? Policies at some of our nation's top universities say yes.

The student government at Baylor University proposed removing a ban on "homosexual acts" from the school's honor code last year. But in its place, any sex outside of marriage would still remain banned.

Brigham Young University is even stricter. The Mormon school's honor code forbids any sexual activity that goes beyond kissing.

Perhaps students should expect such oversight from both universities, with their religious affiliations. However, some secular universities also enforce such policies. Barnard College has rule that forbids overnight guests for more than three consecutive nights and no more than six nights a month.

Facebook Losing its Edge Among College-Aged Adults. From DigiDay.

"I mean, my dad's
on Facebook!"
Facebook’s penetration among U.S. college-aged adults (age 18 to 24) decreased by three percentage points to 88.6 percent in Nov. 2013 from Feb. 2013. Facebook — which initially became popular by solely catering to college students – remained the most widely used social network on campus, but it’s cool factor among college-aged adults has indeed diminished. Facebook did not immediately return calls for a comment.

The numbers also point to which platforms have increased their traction with younger users. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat and Vine all gained users over this time period. Snapchat’s reach among 18- to 24-year-olds increased eightfold, to 25.9 percent in Nov. 2013 from 3.2 percent in Feb. 2013. Vine — which was launched in late Jan. 2013 — grew like a weed over that nine-month period; its reach went from not even registering with comScore in Feb. 2013 to 25 percent penetration that November.


First day: Monotonous syllabus review. From the Fresno State Collegian.

I'm only here
for the campus latte.
What exactly is the purpose of the first two days of class?

There is, of course, the rare professor who begins instruction on those days (and is subsequently grumbled about under breaths and on social media), but the vast majority of professors read over syllabuses that are already self-explanatory and then let their classes out.

While this is, I suppose, a way to ease the transition back into classes and life spent outside the clutches of Netflix and warm sheets, it also seems an egregious waste of time.

The rest of the misery.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This Week's Big Thirsty on Mentoring from Marlon in Madison.

I'm in my third year on the tenure track, and I recently had a newish faculty member - who arrived last September -  put under my care. I took this as a good sign. I had the puffed out chest for a while.

And then as we sat and had a first "mentoring" meeting, I discovered my mentee had been hired further along the tenure track than me! She's going to be up for tenure before I am.

Q: Do I sabotage her? (Not really.) Do I still think this shows the department chair likes me? Did I draw the short straw? Is there a silver lining to any of this?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Can I Put This in My Syllabus?

From "Something Positive," A Comic From R.K. Milholland.

No Shooting at the Univ of Okla.

Despite many earlier reports and a temporary closing:
The University of Oklahoma in Norman briefly shut down Wednesday after a report of a possible shooting.
No evidence has been found of any shots being fired, and no injuries are reported, school spokeswoman Catherine Bishop said.

Purdue shooting suspect surrenders after allegedly killing fellow student. Video from CNN.

Victim Andrew Boldt
A gunman shot and killed another man Tuesday inside Purdue University's electrical engineering building, spurring worried students to scramble into the bitter cold outside for safety.

The Indiana school's police chief said that the suspect appeared to have had just one target in mind. He left the building right after the shooting, and a city police officer arrested him.

"This appears to be an isolated and intentional act," Purdue Police Chief John Cox said. "...The victim appeared to have been targeted by the suspect, and it was no more and no less than that."

Cox identified the victim as Andrew Boldt, a 21-year-old senior from West Bend, Wisconsin, who also worked at the school as a teaching assistant.


More on Alleged Shooter.

Alleged Shooter Cody Cousins
photo: NY Daily News

The arrest of Cody Cousins, who some report
was a TA for the same professor as
the victim Andrew Boldt.

photo: @KyleSiemmers

... and right back where we started

Nearby town
Double the usual salary

This is how it began. My SO forwarded me that job posting which looked scammish but I figured what the hay?  Within a day, learned it was from a temp agency placing staff at a government facility for failed wombats. Two days after that, I was interviewing. The next week work began.

Now, I should add that upon learning about the nature of the placement, I made inquires of The Google and discovered a rich and troubling past at this government department. (The sort of trouble where agencies get disbanded and people get fined/jailed.) But, I was promised house had been cleaned, leaves had been turned ... it was a brand new day.

Yeah, you can fill in the rest.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Truly awesome: "Every Major's Terrible"

I don't usually post videos but this one is worth it:  the SFU choir sings the comic "Every Major's Terrible" to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Modern Major-General":

New term, new priorities: Edna gears up for reentry

As I count down the days until the start of a new semester, I look back on my family leave and marvel at what a difference a new bundle of expenses joy makes to my overall outlook on work. Your mileage may vary, but I thought I'd share a handful of my personal revelations:
Proffie parents: taking crap at home and at work.

As much as I enjoy academia, this is, at heart, really just a job.

A job can be left for another one if circumstances require it.

I could totally leave academia if I needed to. Someday I might even want to.

It is OK to put family first, whether for a while or forever. This time (or any time) doesn't come back once it's gone, and if one is lucky enough to opt for seizing these moments, one must consider these options very carefully before proceeding.

It is also OK to like work and return to it. If only I could bottle the thrill I got the day I finally returned to my office to sit down and actually do something that required my training and experience rather than a pack of wet wipes and a noseplug.

Cheers to everyone on CM who have kept the misery flowing these past few months--I've been lurking while on leave, and it has been (perhaps strangely) comforting to check in with the goings-on at the compound. I propose that Darla and I begin regular inspections to check the facilities for family-friendliness, and report our findings to management.

P.S. The spawn loves hir alpaca fur booties. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness!

Why Do We Occasionally Post Notes We Get From Students? Because They Taste So Good.

I've got a teacher that probably writes for your website.

He has a rule about stapling our papers to turn them in. I forgot one day and he took out his stapler and put three staples right in the middle of the page. He didn't say anything and I didn't either.

It's his problem. He's the one who has to read it now around the staples!

Nobby from North Dakota With an Early Thirsty: "How far have you gone to make a point? Have you regretted it?"

Desperate writing professor, dismayed by students' uncritical acceptance of sources, trolls students with a content-free "academic source"

Professor Plausible's Big Book of Baloney: Alternate Titles: Handbook of Organizational Psychology, Clinical Pharmacokinetics, Das Kapital   

"This book was inspired by my students. In the past year, I have received research papers whose bibliographies included such sources as a golfing manual, a thriller set in the Vatican, and Leadership Lessons from the Dog Whisper (sic). I have tried to convince my budding scholars that popular books are not to be relied on as sources of Truth, as they are far from infallible. There is no requirement that a book be fact-checked or peer-reviewed; with the advent of easy self-publishing, it doesn’t even need to be spell-checked. One fateful day, I exclaimed to my class that I could throw together a book of my own made-up facts, and put it up for sale on Amazon tomorrow. Would you use that as a source for your paper? I asked. The glazed look that I got in response gave me an idea. I decided to step aside and let the rock roll back down the hill. Behold the Big Book of Baloney, the world's first combination notebook, sketchpad, and academic source: It's the only [Citation] you'll ever need."

I know, we shouldn't care more about their education than they do. That's easier said than done. Some of us still care.

So tell me:

Q: To what lengths have you gone to make a point? Costumes? Accents? Explosions? Faking your own death after a particularly bad student presentation?


Mod note on linked book: Although it appears to be a real book, we've read that it's only about 100 words long! We'd advise thinking seriously before spending 99¢ for it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

All Right, So Which One of Us Is This?

Stoned, dumb, jerking off,
Police say a University of Iowa professor falsely reported his laptop stolen because it contained pornography.

UI music professor Brent Sandy, 55, reported his laptop stolen on Jan. 13. Sandy told police the laptop had been taken from his office during a three-minute window, according to Iowa City Police complaints.

Using a Mediacom IP address, UI Information Technology Services employees traced the missing laptop to Sandy’s home on Fifth Avenue, according to police.

Police executed a search warrant and found the laptop - along with a small container of marijuana and a one-hitter - in Sandy’s house, according to complaints.

Sandy told police he removed the laptop from his office because in contained pornography and he was scheduled to get a new laptop, police say.

The rest of the misery.

A Monday Open Thread. Free For All Misery Flood.

I don't understand...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Are You a Tenure Failure?" Dr. Python Wonders.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...or it's just a kick in the teeth.

It's getting to be that inglorious time of the year when tenure decisions are being announced. This is what separates the mediocre from the excellent, or so adminiflakes would have us believe.

It seems in my observations over the years that this form of academic hazing is capricious at best and the manifestation of evil at worst.

If you, dear reader, have words of encouragement for your brethren during this time of shock, horror, and grieving, now is the time to share it. If you have a horror story, I would hope this is a place to share, rage, and be supported.

- Dr. Python

PhD Debt Data.

Atua Bear sends this along:

It would be nice to have CMers contribute to this PhD Debt Survey.

There's more info on it in Slate.

The Shit They Say. Smithie in Scottsdale is Speechless.

"You can stop. You've
already won my heart."
Started class last week. My 3 pm class meets 15 weeks, twice a week. 30 meetings.

Nice 22 year old woman comes up after the first meeting with her smartphone. She says, "I wanted to let you know some days that I absoLUTELY can't be in class."

She waits until I make a move to write them down.

9 classes. Out of 30. She has 9/30 classes where she already knows she's not coming.

She reads the list off and sometimes mentions why she's not going to be there - sister's out of town wedding (like on a Wednesday?) - but sometimes doesn't give any explanation.

I look at my list and then at her. "Why didn't you take a different class if this one seems to be a bad time for you.

"Oh," she said brightly. "This was the only section that fit my schedule."