Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Eugene Hicock: seriously out of touch with real academia

Your exercise for the day: fisk this piece mercilessly. Here are two whoppers in the space of one paragraph to get you started:

Faculty members decide what they want to teach and when they want to teach, if, indeed, they teach at all. This is particularly true regarding undergraduate instruction, which is something of an afterthought on many campuses. Faculty members typically spend fewer than 200 hours a year in the classroom. That amounts to just five 40-hour weeks.

Let’s see… in my current job, I get to decide exactly a third of what I teach (in previous jobs, it was even less, and I’ve been offered jobs where I would have had no choice whatsoever); nobody asked me when I wanted to teach; and nobody gave me the option of not teaching. I spend well over 200 hours a year in the classroom, time that doesn’t count office hours, responding to student phone calls and emails, class preparation time, research obligations, department meetings, service obligations, and attending co-curricular and extra-curricular student events. I don’t actually get paid for one quarter of the year, during which I am essentially unemployed but am expected to work on research anyway. A whole month’s salary went out the window to pay for my move to Missouri. My future employability is largely determined by whether or not three other individuals’ letters of recommendation say better things about me than other peoples’ letters. It’s really cushy.

I could easily double my salary in private industry, with the sole disadvantage of being stuck behind a desk for an arbitrary number of hours per week. Instead, for some reason I cannot fathom, I have spent the last three years competing with other people who—to a person—have a more prestigious doctorate than I do to find a job that is exactly like the one described in the previous paragraph but has slightly more job security—although not near as much as the typical corporate white collar position, at least for anyone who is at least mildly productive.

The really insane part is that I wouldn’t trade what I do now for the world.

þ: Margaret Soltan.

The Talent-McCaskill debate

Before watching Talent-McCaskill on TiVo-delay, I need to make two very important points:

  • Claire McCaskill doesn’t look anything like her picture.
  • I am too sober to watch this crap, even though I was cruel and sadistic enough to make my American politics students watch it and write an essay for extra credit.

More thoughts when some braincells are numbed enough to listen to these twerps.

Le Retour

The Kitchen Cabinet is back up and running after a lengthy haïtus (albeit one punctuated by occasional movie reviews).

Mizzou presentation

My presentation on measuring political sophistication with item-response theory models is here; it’s something of a work in progress, as I haven’t put together the pretty graphs for the American NES data yet.

Speaking of voter fraud

Everyone’s favorite “do as we say, not as we do” left-wing advocacy group, ACORN, which is usually in the news for its shabby treatment of its own employees while advocating higher labor standards for everyone else, is in trouble here in St. Louis after around 1500 potentially fraudulent voter registration cards were discovered in recent weeks, many of which have been traced back to canvassers hired by the group.

The one cool thing I learned this afternoon

KWord imports PDF files. I wish I’d learned that before I shelled out $50 at Office Depot for a Windows program that did the same thing.

Strawman of the week award

E. Frank Stephenson on evidence that various New York politicians sought to promote their candidacies through the publication of private college guidebooks with their pictures on the cover:

One more data point for the public choice view of politicians over fantasy that pols are selfless public servants.

I didn’t realize that public choice had some sort of a monopoly on considering politicians as having baser motives than serving the public good.

The Black Primary

The New York Times reports on the bizarre case of Democratic party operative Ike Brown of Noxubee County, Mississippi, who faces a federal lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act for suppressing the voting rights of whites. Probably the most fascinating passages in the article, which read like something out of a 1960s era lawsuit with the races reversed:

Mr. Brown is accused in the lawsuit and in supporting documents of paying and organizing notaries, some of whom illegally marked absentee ballots or influenced how the ballots were voted; of publishing a list of voters, all white, accompanied by a warning that they would be challenged at the polls; of importing black voters into the county; and of altering racial percentages in districts by manipulating the registration rolls. ...

The Justice Department’s voting rights expert is less reserved [than local white residents]. “Virtually every election provides a multitude of examples of these illegal activities organized by Ike Brown and other defendants, and those who act in concert with them,” the expert, Theodore S. Arrington, chairman of the political science department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, wrote in a report filed with the court. ...

There are so few whites in the county, Mr. Brown suggests, that the tactics he is accused of are unnecessary to keep blacks in office.

“They can’t win anyway unless we choose to vote for them,” he said with a smile. “If I was doing something wrong — that’s like closing the barn door when the horse is already gone.”

Of course, the key point of practices like the white primary in most of the South wasn’t to prevent blacks from outvoting whites per se—even in the early 20th century before extensive outmigration of African-Americans, whites typically outnumbered blacks in most counties outside the “black belt” plantation counties—but instead to ensure that blacks and lower-to-middle class whites would not form cross-racial voting coalitions in support of white or black candidates that would displace the local elites from office.

Assuming white block voting for white candidates, even in a county that’s 75% black like Noxubee white candidates could win elections with 30–40% black support depending on the turnout ratio… so, if techniques like pressuring blacks through appeals to racial solidarity to also block vote against white candidates breaks down, the illegal tactics Brown is accused of orchestrating would be very helpful in maintaining and/or expanding control of elected offices.

þ Rick Hasen.

The new gay scare

Nice to see NBC getting in on the act of insinuating gay men are all pedophiles:

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) took two male pages with him on a three-day camping trip in 1996, former congressional pages and National Park Service officials tell NBC News. The pages, who were 17 at the time, went rafting and camping with Kolbe in the Grand Canyon over the July 4th holiday that year.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Kolbe confirms the overnight trip but says that the pages did not travel alone with Kolbe. The congressman’s sister was on the trip, along with office staffers and several Park Service employees, says Kolbe spokeswoman Korenna Cline. Gary Cummins, the deputy superintendent of Grand Canyon in 1996, tells NBC News that he also was on the trip with Congressman Kolbe. He confirms that two young men were on the trip with Kolbe, as part of a larger group. ...

Congressman Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican congressman. He has been active with the congressional page program for years, and was himself a page in 1958 for Sen. Barry Goldwater.

I didn’t realize the congressional page program was designated as the feeder program for the DC chapter of NAMBLA. Thanks for the memo, NBC.

I look forward to similar NBC exposés about every other instance in which a gay person went camping with a large group including at least one person under the age of 18.