Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

7 Years Ago Today from Ralph from Rutabaga Ranch.

We had a lovely relationship with Ralph. 7 years ago he sent us a post that resonated a lot with younger faculty - and angered some. Among other things, Ralph said, "When I look back on the charging I did all those years, I just chuckle now. There's nothing up there, darlings, at the top of the ladder. Not if you're looking for acclaim or respect from without. It's true, what I did rewarded me personally, but that was not something I realized until I was nearly gone from the academy." The rest of that article can be read here.

And then a couple of years ago after he passed, his wife wrote to us. She said this: "You were so kind to publish an essay of his in 2007, and he never stopped talking about the things he learned, the things that he was worried about that appeared first on your weblog." The rest of her touching letter can be found here.

Friday, November 28, 2014

8 Years Ago: Student Evaluations.

One of the 5 most popular links in RYS History:

Today I woke up with a knot in my stomach, and I was out of sorts all day. I was giving my students the evaluation instrument my college uses. As soon as the large white envelope came out of my bag the students started their energetic twittering. I even heard the same comments I always hear: "Yeah, now we get to give the grades," etc.

I always read the preamble that my college gives me to read, about anonymity, about how grateful we all are to gather comments. How we're eager to find ways in which to teach the courses better. There's even a line that reads, "Your instructor welcomes your criticism."

And of course it's all complete bullshit.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Badly Miss Bitchy Bear. Here's a CM Flashback To A List of Things She Was Thankful For 4 Years Ago.


5. I am grateful that the sociopath who is the president of my university is too busy with his own career and thinking about himself to fuck with the faculty.

4 years Ago on CM. A Graph!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Speedy Millennial Technology Preferences Rant

You drove to campus, through freezing rain, at 8:00 AM, on the day we moved Friday classes to Wednesday to make up for Thanksgiving (a.k.a. the worst traffic day of the year), when I told you I wouldn't take attendance, so you could take a picture with your cellphone of something I projected on a screen, which I also put on Blackboard (and told you I put on Blackboard), then left with your phone to go "work on a paper", instead of just staying home and logging into Blackboard.  

WTF is wrong with you kids?


Ask Adam: Top 5 Greatest Fears...of Grad Students.

RYS Flashback. A Top Ten All Time Post. 9 Years Ago Today.

Bursting with Love - or Maybe Turkey - Someone from Minnesota Finishes a Set of Essays.

Dear Students,

I've just spent half of yesterday and all of this morning going through your latest essays. They're horrid. Each one of you has disappointed me in some essential way. I hold each early draft and finished draft next to each other, remember the conversations we had about working on the paper, developing it, and then I read the final draft and see NONE of those changes, none of those revisions. It's as if I gave 2 conference days to you for no reason other than to give myself a chance to make my cold worse. Why do you think I offer suggestions? Why do I ask questions about your work? Why do I care more for your essays than you do?

The Rest.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Here's To You, Table 1. From Dr. Amelia.

Occasionally, I am futzing with the technology - waiting for the projector to warm up, changing the screen resolution, etc. And, like Linda Richman, I give them a topic to discuss among themselves.

Tables 2-4? It's time to text your friends not in the class.

Table 5? "Professor? Will this be graded?"

Table 1? They are pulling out their course notes. Choosing sides to debate the issue. Raising their hands to ask clarifying questions.

Tables 2-4, you will serve food to Table 1 one day.

Table 5, you will never advance in Table 1's company.

Table 1, you kids are going to rule the freakin' world.

Penny the Parent, The All Time Thanksgiving Flashback!

Flava from 6 Years Ago:

If 12,000 Proffies Typed For 12,000 Years, We Could Never Come Up With this Shit. Penny the Parent Sends a "Boo Fucking Hoo."

This parent is worried. The Student has one of those Unfortunate schedules and one of those Intractable (but hot, according to RMP) fascists, I mean teachers who is making that Thanksgiving getaway darned near impossible. The only way for the Student to get out of Uni town is Greyhound... the Student will arrive at the Crossroads of America (NY Port Authority) at Midnight, because hot teacher INSISTS ALL Students attend afternoon class or be penalized grade wise. The Student is worried.... The Parent ? The Parent is mighty pissed.

The Whole Thing:


And then Some of the Responses from RYS Readers:

Penny the Parent? Now a Pinata!

If Penny Parent got wind that any prof was regularly cancelling classes, arriving late, skipping out early, taking vacations during the semester, she'd want that prof's hide. 'How dare that prof not respect the fact that I pay his salary? I want what I'm paying for - classes for Kiddo!' Penny reveals what she really wants -- puppetmastery. Profs should only cancel classes or suspend attendance policies when it makes sense for family planning (I mean, employer planning, oops).


Monday, November 24, 2014

RYS Flashback: 6 Years Ago Today.

"The Regulars." Milo Wonders Why High School English Teachers Have to Fuck Everybody Up.

What is it with high school English teachers? Is there a facility somewhere in the Midwest that breeds them for their ability to fit comfortably into the factory farm model of education? That instills in their docile minds a few basic (and wrong) rules about writing? Because my students are showing up in my freshman writing classes with a set of assumptions about writing that are not merely unproductive, but just plain dumb.

My students are not stupid. Many of them are passing calculus and physics, but their grasp of basic manuscript mechanics and standard academic usage is, to be charitable, very weak. Still, that’s stuff I can teach – it’s not very high level, but reasonably intelligent students can grasp such things pretty quickly. Even disabused of error, however, my students for the most part do not understand what an essay actually is, or does. They have been taught, near as I can tell, that an essay is a form that must be filled out neatly, or that it is some pretty thing to please a teacher with its fidelity to a diagram in an elementary rhetoric handbook. That is has anything to do with fidelity to their own thought has not occurred to the vast majority of the students in my writing classes.

For this, I blame their bovine high school English teachers. No doubt Edgy Eric will be coming after me with his red pen, but someone out there in teacherland is not doing his or her job even if Eric is. Oh, I’m sure there are some decent teachers like Eric out there in the high schools – years ago I was lucky enough to come under the tutelage of a couple of them myself – but these days, near as I can tell, the system mostly produces drones and time-servers. What’s worse, the drones and time servers obviously are not writers. And, no, I don’t expect high school teachers to be publishing in the Atlantic Monthly, but no one who took the time to craft an occasional letter to the editor of the local paper could possible believe the things many of my students tell me they have been taught in high school:

1) Never use the first person in an essay. The choice of point of view is fundamental to fulfilling the purpose of a piece of writing. Telling students they can only write in the third person is like telling a soldier he can have boots but not a gun when he goes into battle.

2) Never ask a question in an essay. Essays are about posing and answering questions. What sort of nimrod doesn’t know that? How can you pose and answer questions without, you know, writing them out?

3) Always have three body paragraphs. This leads to intellectual absurdities so grotesque they give me nightmares. This third absurdity also leads to thesis statements that assert the obvious and result in flat organization: “There are several examples of children learning moral lessons in the novels we have read,” followed by three random examples that do not have any particular relation to each other, that could be presented in any order, that do not, in short, amount to anything approaching an argument.

4) Reading for comprehension: just because a novelist describes something – genetic engineering gone haywire, pornography, violence against kitty cats – does not mean the writer approves of the practice or is recommending it; but many students arrive thinking this is true. Many students read in isolated fragments and appear unable to see relationships between ideas. Actually, I can’t blame high school teacher for this exclusively – I think a lot of it has to do with the sort of narrative entertainment available to teenagers. In most video games and TV shows there is no critical point of view, only the wash of images designed to stimulate the limbic system. There is a sense in which any verbal or visual representation is, for many of my students, “pornographic.”

I won’t even try to list the simple things my students’ high school teachers apparently have not told them – like it’s a good idea to put a title on your work other than “Essay Two.” Actually, a title like that exactly reflects the attitude my students bring to writing essays: that it is a work product, not the record of a process of thought – first you do one, then you do the second, and so on. Factory work.

I’ll conclude with a story: The other day, Sincere Sophie stops by for office hours with her second essay in hand. I’d asked her to rewrite it because she thought that an essayist who described a particular idea about the nature of the self was advocating for that idea instead of holding it up as an over-simplification, which he then went on to make more complex. (See No. 4 above.)

Sophie always comes to class and it’s clear she’s been doing the reading by the comments she makes in discussion. Sophie is intelligent and willing, but as we were discussing here essay, she said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world,

“Oh, I don’t actually believe any of what I wrote in the essay – I just found something I could find examples for.”

After recovering my equanimity, I said, “That must have been a painful experience, writing an essay that way.”

“Yeah, I hate writing essays,” she replied. Well, naturally you do, my dear, I whispered to myself. “What questions would you like to answer about Conrad’s portrayal of the self?” I asked her.

“You mean I can ask a question? In high school we were told to never ask a question in an essay.”
“Well,” I replied, “the thesis statement should be a declarative statement, but there is no reason you can’t ask questions that your thesis then attempts to answer.”


So we talked about what it would be like to write what she actually believed about the subject and she agreed that that would probably be more fun and more useful. I suggested we make a deal – she could rewrite her essay using questions and forgetting any other rules she had learned in high school and I would guarantee her a grade of 75 or higher. I wanted to give her a safety net. As I was talking I noticed something amazing: the dead mask dropped from her face and her posture went from slouched to alert. She left my office with what appeared to be real enthusiasm for the task of rewriting. I’m looking forward to reading that essay.

Professors should better acknowledge their role as teachers. From the Daily Northwestern.

I was sitting outside of a mechanical engineering room in Technological Institute, when a girl, clearly frustrated, walked into the hallway, talking to someone on the phone. “He told me he doesn’t answer questions. I had my quiz, and I walked up to him, ready to ask him a question, and he said he doesn’t do questions.”

Huh. A professor who doesn’t “do” questions. I wish I could say this was a strange occurrence for the faculty of Northwestern, but unfortunately it’s not.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

UVa Closes Frats. Who's Next?

This morning the Inter-Fraternity Council announced that all University fraternities have voluntarily suspended social activities this weekend. This is an important first step, but our challenges will extend beyond this weekend. Beginning immediately, I am suspending all fraternal organizations and associated social activities until January 9th, ahead of the beginning of our spring semester. In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds. On Tuesday, the Board of Visitors will meet to discuss the University’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assault as well as the specific, recent allegations.

More from President Sullivan.

The original Rolling Stone investigation.



Late Saturday night 100s of students and proffies marched to the Phi Kappa Psi house.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Titties. Am I Doomed?" Raquel in the Redwoods is Reeling.

I just wrote an impassioned email to all 100 of my writing students about the importance of titling essays with something more than "Sports" or "Essay Two" or "Essay Two: Sports."

I did some impassioned stuff about how the title of an essay is the first thing a reader sees, and how that title could be evocative and informational, actually create interest in the text. Actually drive readers into that first paragraph, which is, really, all we can hope for.

I felt good. I felt strong. The class had not been great about this topic, and with our biggest essay coming up I wanted them to really consider my suggestions.

Of course I titled this group email "Titties."

ChrryBlstr Sends This In. There Has to Be Better Uses for $150.

The International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, a predatory open-access journal, has accepted for publication the marvelously titled paper "Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List."

According to Scholarly Open Access, researchers David Mazi̬res and Eddie Kohler first prepared the manuscript in 2005, to protest spam conference invitations. The paper Рwhich can be read in its entirety here Рis superbly summarized by its title, although its two figures do help reify some of its more abstract points.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Public Service Announcement


Hello?  Is this thing on?

[brief squawk of feedback]


May I have your attention please.

Now that the semester is drawing to a close, several of you have asked me how you should prepare for the upcoming final.  
At this stage, there are essentially two possibilities...

Either you've paid attention in class, 
kept up with the coursework, 
and you know the material...

[draws breath]

Or ya Tea Partying didn't
and ya Tea Partying don't!

That is all


Next Semester Is Two Months Away. Why Is Troublesome Trisha Emailing Me Before I've Been Able to Get My Post Fall Semester Drink On?

Yesterday, I received an email from Troublesome Trisha, who is getting married (yay!) and will miss the first week of next semester (yay!) for her honeymoon (yay!). 

She wants to know if she can submit any work for the first week of classes the week before the semester begins. 

Yes, the title of this post is nearly as long as the post itself. 


Breaking News.

Adjunct faculty: We are the 76.4 percent
from the Burlington Free Press

In the past 25 years, there has been a dramatic shift in higher education. In 1990, most college courses were taught by full-time, tenured faculty. In 2014, the majority of college courses are taught by part-time, "contingent" faculty, who now make up 76.4 percent of all college professors nationwide.

Many people outside academia assume that with the title "professor" comes a decent salary and benefits. After all, college professors have played by the rules, worked hard, taken on those student loans, gotten those advanced degrees and (as the saying goes) "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" into a respected profession.

Unfortunately, for adjunct faculty, this is not the case at all. Instead, teaching the maximum allowed course load of three courses per semester, my annual after-tax income is under $20,000.

The Rest.

The Rarely Used Douchebag Thirsty, From Academic Charlotte Anne

I have a snowflake; we shall call him Douchey Don. The other day in class Douchey Don asked me for “my opinion” on altruism in hamsters. I tried to explain to Douchey that I rarely give my opinion in class, but rather I try to present data and research from the field. In an effort to try to get these particular snowflakes to think like scientists, I asked Don what his hypothesis would be. He refused to participate and reiterated again his desire for my opinion, since I was the expert (of course he said this in a snide and condescending tone).

 So I ignored him and opened it up to the rest of the class. I got several hypotheses, and then we discussed the RESEARCH on hamster altruism, completely irrespective of my opinion. Douchey Don didn’t understand and arrogantly huffed out of the room whilst mumbling some nonsense about me not answering his question.

Q: Why is it that the tea-partying douchebag snowflakes think that anything professors say in front of the classroom is “opinion” as opposed to, oh, I don’t fucking know, facts, data, or theory from major researchers in the field?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Professional Development Handout

I will have to give you guys a more detailed update on my status, but I've decided that I won't be teaching community college anymore, at least not any time soon.  I've taken to the private sector, where I get more respect, get paid about as much, and I am able to sever ties with people who waste my time.

There are times when I feel guilty about that.  But then, I'm quickly reminded of how things used to be.

Such guilt occurred today until I stumbled upon this professional development handout from Portland Community College.  Don't get me wrong.  Some of the ideas are good.  But there are Easter eggs.  Can you find them?

Here's the link:

No further comment.

Shooting at FSU. Gunman dead. Three hurt. From CNN.

Is The Meme Thing Going to Die? From Eating Low Salt.

Harris in Houston Asks A Big Thirsty For the Modern Age: What Does It Mean to "Meet Them Where They Are?"

I am fresh out of an endless departmental meeting where Judgy Judy saved up a ton of breath and bitterness while half the room vented some very mild student foibles.

"Well, I'd ask myself if maybe I was the problem, if your students REALLY act that way," she said suddenly, unable to keep it in.

A friend of hers, another veteran, tried to placate her. "Surely, Judy, you've got some students who simply won't listen, do their work, follow guidelines. What do you do when they keep messing up and won't own up to it."

"I put in more hours. I meet them where they are. The students are blameless."

And I and others sat in silence for a while as things turned to the matters of the day.

But it ate at me. Judy's face is burned in my brain. She stormed out of the meeting as it ended and a few of us sat around quietly.

"Do you think that's right?" Newbie Nora said. "Am I the one to blame if they won't work?"

Q: The notion of "meeting students where they are" is a fairly hot notion nowadays, and I find cites to it all over the place. I first heard it in the profoundly popular book called The College Fear Factor. But, what does the phrase really mean? Are there limits? If they're in denial, do I have to be to?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Don’t waste our time, we won’t waste yours. From the Marshall Parthenon.

I have to prioritize!
Professors, if you are going to give an assignment make it worth our time — have a reason behind it. College students are often given the “slacker” title because we don’t do assignments that aren’t for a grade.

But, look at it from our perspective: if we have class from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. then work from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. that only leaves three hours for homework if we go to bed by midnight. If we have four assignments due the next day and only two of them are for a grade, it is logical to spend the extra time on an assignment you are getting something out of.


Dropping Out, Again: Why So Many College Students Never Graduate. From NBCNews.

A decade ago, then-18-year-old Sophia Stoll resolved that she wanted to go away for college. The working-class New Yorker enrolled in a private Catholic university outside of Pittsburgh, but by her junior year, she’d realized that the media and technology program didn’t suit her goals. Stoll dropped out, worked odd jobs for a year back home, then transferred to SUNY-Fredonia. But she ended up suffering from extreme anxiety, she says, and withdrew after a semester.

Several years later, she tried enrolling once again—this time at Brooklyn College—and enjoyed it. Yet after switching schools for the second time, she was discouraged to find that many of her credits hadn’t transferred. She withdrew the same year.

“The thought of going back again after all this time makes me tense up,” she said. “I also don’t want to take out any more loans” than the $11,000 she already has. It’s been two years since Stoll, now 28, left Brooklyn College. And because she has a stable communications job at a local union, she’s not sure she’s ever going back.


Explaining Grad School to Your Parents. A New VidShizzle From "Ask Adam."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Six Years Ago. From Mildred. By Request.

November 18th, 2008

I have pondered long and hard on what to write about in my first post as an RYS "Regular." (Deeply honoured, etc etc.)

There are the students, but y'all have that subject so nicely covered already that I have very little to say there. I visit this site every day for my daily dose of smackdown. It makes my whole day. I get from RYS the same kind of satisfaction we all get from watching Nanny 9-1-1 - however bad your children are they are never within an order of magnitude as bad as the little monsters on that show. And no matter how bad my students get, they are never (so far, knock wood) nearly as bad as the weasels I read about here.

I teach in a public institution, and we don't get many rich entitled brats whose Daddy built the west wing of the library. We don't have a medical school so we're missing most of the rotten little cheaters, too. The Dean will back me up all the way if I nail a plagiarist to the wall or fail some slacker's sorry ass. And the students don't complain about it. If they don't do the work, they expect to fail. It's an agreement we have.

So I come to this site for relief. No matter how bad my day has been, I can guarantee that some correspondent on RYS has had a far, far worse one. Sure, my students are frequently lazy little swine with sloppy citation habits. Compared to what I read about here? Big effing deal.

And there's another way I can't complain. I have tenure. If I have a bad class or a journal bounces an article or (to be frank) the article bogs down and never actually gets out the door in the first place, it gets me down, but it doesn't get me a job at Wal-Mart. I don't lie awake at night terrified, the way, you know, I did, before the faculty voted to keep me on. I don't have the rash covering 3/4 of my body that I had for six months before that vote. I don't live in my stress counsellor's office anymore, though I still see her every month on general principles.

So what do I have to complain about? Well, here's the subject I want to raise to RYS. Can we have a career and a life both or am I just kidding myself? And is it harder for female academics? Should I just quit trying?

A friend of mine quit her TT job a few years back. Like me, she had 2 small children, and was juggling the teaching and the research and the book-writing and the committees and the child care and home-making and sure, she had a very supportive husband and all that. But she finally decided she'd had it. Her explanation was simple. Teaching is a full-time job; research is a full-time job; and motherhood his a full-time job. And she could handle two full-time jobs but she couldn't handle three.

I tried to talk her out of it. She ignored me and I think she was probably right. I had tenure by then and the picture was different for me. But ...

But my friend is right. Teaching is a full-time job. Parenting is a full-time job. Research is a full-time job. And I can't handle three full-time jobs either.

I teach 3 x 2 and I have 2 primary-school-aged children. My husband is out of the country this week and so far this weekend I've produced 6 meals, done 5 loads of laundry, arranged for the plumber to come to fix various essential fixtures in the only 45-minute period I can manage to be home to let him in tomorrow, escorted children to three events not counting the 2 hours I spent sitting in a medical clinic with one of them, gotten partway through sending the invitations for a birthday party next weekend, overseen their piano practicing and spelling drills, dragged a mutinous 8-year-old through math homework, an exhausting 90-minute effort, made sure they had everything together for school tomorrow, chased them into bed, packed 2 lunches, made a pan of rice krispie treats and morosely ate about half of them myself, and cleaned the kitchen again (and again and again). It wasn't until 11:00 at night that I could look at my to-do list for tomorrow.

The to-do list for tomorrow includes grading 150 quizzes, 20 papers, preparing a graduate seminar, 8 or 9 emails from students with drafts of papers (I'm assuming) that I'm avoiding opening, hell, everyone here can fill in this part; we're all slogging in the same trenches and it's the same point in term for us all. But I have no idea how I can get any of it done.

To say nothing of the research I'm not doing.

Since I had my second child, I have not published anything new at all. A couple of new things have come out, but they were things I'd done the research for and in fact drafted before I went into labour the second time. I've done nothing new. And yes, I could. I could somehow find the time.

But you know, I'm so exhausted I can barely think at all. It's hard for me to believe I've got anything worth saying, about anything.

On my worst days I wonder if I should quit so the university can hire someone who's actually willing to do the work I'm getting paid for and not producing. Two things stop me. My department might not get to replace my position, or not immediately. And I'm not a bad teacher. I'm often a pretty good one. My students are getting something out of my being there. Though they would get more if I were doing any research at all, a small voice reminds me.

Now of course I'm not going to quit. I haven't won any lotteries lately. But has anyone got any ideas how to manage this mythical life/work balance? Or this life/teaching/research balance?

Me, I'm going to ignore the papers and quizzes and go to bed, again. Selfishly putting my desire for sleep ahead of my student's need for feedback, I know. But my eyes are practically crossing with fatigue and there is an actual, physical, limit.

I'm not exactly a poster child for "hire a mother" I know. But what the hell am I supposed to do?

If It's Tuesday, Hiram Must Be Baffled By Add/Drop Week.

Okay, every semester we get the bum's rush to remind our students about the drop date. It's the 9th week! Anyway, that's a different story.

So, when the time came, I looked at my undergrads and saw about 10-15% of them really with almost no chance to make it; about 10% already locked up with a high B or A, and the rest in the middle, with all of their options still open.

I did my normal classroom speech about it, about 30 seconds. I even said, "If you want to know if you're borderline or not, just let me know and I'll go through your grades."

Of course nobody took me up on that.

But then last week when I went into my classes, ALL of the failing students were still there, smiling, seemingly secure in their paths. AND, about 5-6 PASSING students were not. I raced back to my office, checked the add/drop page, and sure as shit some kids who probably would have made it bailed after my warning.

I feel like an idiot. Should I just have targeted to talked to the failing kids? Did I owe more transparency than I gave? I have an open office door and most students come to see me at least once in the two mandated appearances I make them schedule.

I can't help but feel I bounced some kids because I wasn't more clear.

Headline The Ohio State Parents Hate to See: "Syphilis outbreak persists in Columbus"

Mom, could
you stop at the
drugstore for,
uh, my friend?
Students walking through the RPAC in recent weeks might have noticed a sign outside of the Student Wellness Center that read: “ATTENTION COLUMBUS, SYPHILIS OUTBREAK, GET TESTED.”

Ohio State Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said the notice at the Student Wellness Center wasn’t a response to an increase in the number of cases on campus, but rather in the number of cases in the Greater Columbus area.

And Columbus Public Health lists a Columbus syphilis outbreak on its website.

Its most recent release about the outbreak was issued Nov. 4 and said data from the Ohio Department of Health showed a 34 percent increase in cases from January through August, compared to January through August 2013.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Speedy Smartphone Rant

I know you have your phones with you in class.  I know you're not afraid to use them.  When I send class cancellation messages the Thursday evening before a Friday 8:00 AM class, it's for your benefit, not mine.  Why am I getting the first read-receipt Sunday night?  Did you really ALL sit there looking around hoping someone else knew where I was, then pull out your phones for a little FB action, and just put them back without checking your campus e-mail?  REALLY?

Fresno State. Amirite?

Franklin College professor fired after student alleges in-home assault. From CNN.

A Franklin College professor is under investigation after police accused him of assaulting a male student in his home.

According to a police report, a 19-year-old Franklin College student told school officials he was assaulted last week in the early-morning hours inside Professor Tom Howald's home.

The nature of the assault wasn't revealed, but Howald went to college officials the following morning and was fired that afternoon.

RTV6's Chris Proffitt went to Howald's home to get a comment, but no one answered the door.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Huzzah for Archie!

With the exception of collaborating on, not just one, but two amazing songs with him, I only know Archie through his appearances on Rate Your Students and College Misery.

He's one of those people you wish you had as a real world colleague. Glad to hear he'll be around again!


PS: Here's my favorite Archie post from the goon old days.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Angry Archie from Allentown Dusts Off the Wiki Generation.
Yes, I made this
horrible image.

Raise your hand if you know about the Job Wiki. If you don’t, check it out: it is an unguided tour through the rocky shoals of upper-division snowflakiness. I discovered the thing because some of my grad-flakes mentioned it to me. Big mistake that was. Don't they know never to let their flake-flag fly in public?

Anyway, I’m on a search committee this year, so I went to see what the world of wiki-flakes was saying about our search. Afterwards I felt dirty and soiled, kind of like when you slow down to rubberneck at the scene of an accident and what you see is an 86 Camaro that rear-ended an 86 Mazda pickup, and two dudes with mulletts who just escaped from the trailer park and clearly have no insurance are duking it out because they both wanted to play real-life Grand Turismo 5 on the freeway at rush hour. So to spare you the pain, or perhaps to get you to go rubber-neck too, I am offering the following guide to the job wiki. Caveat Emptor: I looked at the wiki in my discipline, but it looks like there is one for every discipline. So just choose your particular poison and enjoy snowflakery at its finest.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Legend. Amirite?

I don't want to make anyone swoon or faint.

But guess who'll be here soon?

A Top Ten from Beaker Ben

It's been a while since I've done one of these.  I think I got the numbers in the right order.  The theme for this one is that each item could have been expanded into its own goofy post or screed but wasn't.  A monument to my lack of initiative and short attention span, if you will.

Whelp, here goes.  Top Ten Short, Random Thoughts

10.  Despite your assurances, I suspect there were other flights home for Thanksgiving besides the one that causes you to missed four days of class.

9.  You should not require a mandatory two-hour training session to explain how a new website replaces a paper form.  If you tell me “the new website will save everybody lots of time,” I’ll want to smack you.

8.  Although you seem dumbfounded, I think I know how two paragraphs from Wikipedia ended up in your report.

7.  If I don’t answer my door when you knock, it doesn’t mean that I’m out of the office.  I just don’t want to talk to you.

6.  Thanks to technology, I’m doing more work now because our department secretary is averse to using a computer.  (See #9.)

5.  A science colleague casually mentioned to me the other day that he is wary of vaccinating children.  I’d be less appalled if I thought there was any chance of him getting laid, much less raising kids.

4.  There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who ask questions.

3.  We should rewrite our course descriptions as clickbait.  “Intro to Chemistry: There are 118 elements.  Which one are you?”  “Medieval History: The Roman Empire declines.  You won’t believe what happened next!”

2.  An email, supposedly sent by your mother, does not count as documentation of your illness.

1.  Calls from the football coach are never good.  “I just wanted to commend you on providing our team such a rigorous education.” – nope, not going to happen.

Greeks. Amirite?

Friday Thirsty: Yik Yak?

A question inspired by a sidebar in the Tulane Hullaballoo, which I noticed when I clicked over to read the column linked below

So what's this Yik Yak thing I'm hearing about?  Do your students use it? Do you use it? What, if anything, should I, as an aging-but-aspiring-to-be-not-entirely-out-of-touch college proffie, know about it? 

One of Two Very Similar Memes Sent in Today by Hec and Alice the Adjunct.

We Actually Haven't Developed a Feeling About the Article. We Just Wanted to Post Something From the Tulane Hullabaloo!

Student, faculty communication must be improved

One topic several students mentioned was that many of the introductory classes are too big for professors to get to know students, but professors still encourage students to come to office hours despite the supply of office hours being dramatically smaller than the demand for them. At the other end, even in some of the smaller classes professors can sometimes feel distant.

Full Article.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mid-class bathroom breaks land students in the poo. Student Hilarity From Rhode Island. Why Can't I Get This Kid in My Writing Class?

I Just Shit in My Flask.
If you’re looking to pass this semester, you may need to hold it. In accordance with the new Classroom Requirements of Accepted Protocol policy, Rhode Island College students are now forbidden to use the restroom during class periods. The CRAP policy went into last Wednesday and was met with immediate student outrage.

“Do you believe this CRAP,” asked senior English major, Tom Dunn. “I mean, I nearly soiled my britches all because a few uptight professors can’t get going without some prune juice? What a crock!”

What’s more, the CRAP policy doesn’t just mean students aren’t allowed to leave the classroom for a much-needed bathroom break; the restrooms on campus will now be monitored via card swipe. If students would like to visit the restrooms in Craig Lee, for instance, they must swipe their student ID cards; if they’re supposed to be in class at the time of the swipe, the door will not open.

The rest.

The Big Thirsty. What Has Changed?

This forum was already rocking 9 years ago. Who were you then, what? Where have you gone? What is different about your role in the academy? Mistakes? Missed opportunities? Regrets, for God's sake tell us you have regrets. We are no the misery for nothing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How To Cheat. From Dr. Amelia.

Alright, dear flakies, listen up,

I am tired of your half-hearted efforts to put one over on me. All the drudgery of the crying, and the hearing, and the paperwork with none of the admiration for your cleverness. If you really want to slide one through, remember the following:
  1. If you have to turn in a topic for a paper, or are assigned a topic, don't buy a paper on a completely different topic. Also, please make sure the paper you buy relates to the class you are enrolled in. If you are not sure, you can find the title of your course on your electronic schedule.
  2. File formats matter. If your paper is saved with a word processor only popular in Kazhakstan, take the trouble to convert it first.
  3. If you are only copying and pasting PART of the paper, make sure that you have the same density of spelling errors that the rest of the paper does. Otherwise, it sticks out like a sore thumb!
  4. Copying from Wikipedia? Great idea! However, make sure you remove ALL the hyperlinks. When I find one hyperlinked word (ya got most of 'em, champ!), I have to bust you just for being a dummy.
  5. Look at the sections you have copied into your paper. Are there any words in there you could not tell me the definition of on the spot? If so, copy something that you understand.
and a bonus for you test cheaters:

The only standard cheating technique likely to work in my class is the pencil notes lightly on your fingernails technique. *

*However, I must warn you that by 
condensing the information into a 
size/format that fits on your thumbnail, 
you will probably actually learn something. 
Occupational hazard.

Today's Smiling Teacher Meme.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Presidents, Amirite?

With an auditorium full of female students, Lincoln University president Robert R. Jennings offered the sort of fatherly advice he believes many of them need when it comes to sex and men.

"We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn't turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did," he began. "They went to Public Safety and said, 'He raped me.' "

His comments came back in September, at Lincoln's annual All Women's Convocation. The historically black university in Chester County holds separate convocations for women and men, an annual tradition started by the 63-year-old president to mentor each group in matters of behavior, dress, health - and sexual encounters.

More misery.

Oh, and there's video:

Ask Adam Anything. New VidShizzle. "How Do I Prepare For My Oral?"

Yay For Slippery Rock! From the Slippery Rock University Rocket!

I made this!
Everyone remembers the first semester that they scheduled by themselves, the hours spent scanning over the course catalogue, the defeat as all of your dream classes filled up, and skipping your Thursday 8 a.m. so you could (hopefully) get a spot in the class with two seats left. Spoiler alert, you never did. When all was said and done, what you probably did was ask around for easy liberal studies to take in place of eternally sought after core classes. 

If you were anything like us, you chose between two classes in favor of which professor got a higher rating on Rate My Professor. While RMP is an easy way to get an overview of professors and how easy their classes are, it’s important that you also take the extremely good or bad reviews with a grain of salt. 



Look at them kids at Slippery Rock!

You should see my own RMP ratings, not that I ever look at them. I'm clearly the "best" and "worst" professor. My class is "supereasy" and "ridiculously hard." I require "too much reading," yet "nobody has to use the book."

Monday, November 10, 2014

7 Years Ago at RYS. An Open Letter to Job Search Flakes From Someone Frazzled On the Other Side of the Desk.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

To the Needy Job Applicant. 

Dear Job Applicant,

Thank you for applying for a position at our university! I am confident that you will make an important contribution to our academic community, especially given how similar you sound to the little snowflakes already enrolled in this institution. Like you, they believe that their every action is worthy of personal notice and praise!

I deeply apologize for failing to send you a gilded thank-you note for gracing us with your stellar application. We should have done more to encourage you, especially since you couldn't possibly be one of the applicants who mails their application piece by piece, ensuring the greatest possible difficulty for the underpaid staff member who manages the files. Oh, you thought the search committee did that? No. It is a single work-study student making $7.40 an hour, but I apologize for the confusion.

Your confirmation letter wasn't proofread? I suppose that step was overlooked in the five seconds I was given to write it and send it to duplication services. I also realize that I misspelled your middle name on the form letter informing you that you did not, in fact, include a copy of your CV with the application. This is totally unacceptable and I apologize. I really should be able to be more detail oriented as I manage 200 pieces of mail in the three hours between my afternoon classes.

I also would like to extend my regrets regarding the fact that you cannot distinguish between the items we need in order to have a formally complete application with the items that we encourage you to include in order to give us more information on your, no doubt, illustrious intellectual career. You are clearly so talented that there is no reason why we might be interested in additional information on your teaching and research.

Please feel free to call me every day to ask if I have received your last letter of recommendation; I truly have nothing better to do than micromanage your file.


[Officially forged signature
of the Head of the Search Committee]

ASU students should take course evaluations seriously. From The State Press.

The most important components of a good university are its educational quality and faculty. Institutions do their best to upgrade their courses, staff and facilities based on educational requirements and industry standards.

However, the best reviewers of any course are its students. Students are aware of a course’s details and are therefore able to provide a comprehensive list of issues they faced; this forms the basis of course evaluations. All college students should acknowledge how much they can lead to the improvement of the entire educational structure.

The Rest.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case. From Slate.Com.

It’s your sister’s wedding, and you and your quiet but nice cousin—he’s doing his Ph.D. in something, maybe history?—are doing your best to get drunk off the watered-down open-bar bourbon. You’re just making polite conversation, so you ask him: “Want to come visit us next Christmas?”

Why on earth did his sallow face just cloud over at your kind and generous offer? Because he has no idea where he’ll be living two Christmases from now—he just applied to 30 jobs in 30 far-flung towns, so from a logistical standpoint “next Christmas” might as well be Pluto.

Such is the madness of the academic hiring process.



This article is by Rebecca Schuman, a terrific and very well known educational columnist. We love her, and have learned much through reading her articles. She hates us, however, and, well, we guess there's nothing to be done about it. She's said this about us: "Fuck College Misery. They've been nothing but snide, dismissive and ignorant to me, always." 

If that's been her experience, then we're sorry. There are very few writers in the mainstream that we have as much respect for, and regardless of what's been done to her by members of this community, even former moderators, the current moderator sends along an apology.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Say it loud, say it proud

I hope they don't break this site too.
We all have our own stories that end with the same refrain.  I'll spare you the details, except that after wasting several hours performing thankless committee work (but doing it well, I hasten to add), I'm now repeating said work at a lower level of quality.  All thanks to our web development office losing the content I added to several web sites and generally making a hash out of the whole project.

Let's gather together and say with one voice:

Die IT, Die!