Tuesday Post-Dusk Linkage

3 December 2013, 1806 EST

I tried to get this out at dusk, but Steve Martin and I both have a problem with doing things at dusk.   This week’s Tuesday links follow thusly:

First, Duck-ster Phil Arena demonstrated the power of twitter as his rant on twitter about the events in Ukraine got picked up by Max Fisher of the Washington Post.  Two reasons to post this–Phil’s take is not only strident but also illuminating and clarifying; and it shows that twitter can cross-over to the mainstream media.  Fisher has done this before, as he likes to take social science of stuff and discuss it over at his WashPo blog.  Not a bad way to get stuff out from the confines of the academy to wider audiences.

Second, I am glad to see that one of awful-est trends in education may be reversing just a smidge.  Zero tolerance is really just an excuse for people to avoid responsibility.  We give folks discretion so that they can take context into account and make good decisions.  Depriving people of discretion and forcing them to mechanically apply rules such as zero tolerance is just bad policy.

Third, the folks at the Guardian are trying to figure out why academics blog.  If I only knew some bloggers, I would ask them.  The piece does raise some interesting and disturbing trends in the UK–that institutions want to restrict what folks say and use blogs just to promote their schools.  Pretty sure most bloggers find that pretty much anathema.  Thus far, no one has told me what to say or not to say (other than my spouse, and, well, I don’t listen too well) in the various places I blog.  The funny thing is that my most obnoxious piece to date on Canadian stuff got lots more retweets and favorites and such than anything else I have written (it could be worse, I could be calling Canada “uncool“).  Probably not a good signal to send me.

Fourth, friend of the Duck, Erica Chenoweth, has a very interesting post that is a good launching point to other places if you are interested in why social movements fail.

Fifth, this post suggests that neoliberalism is not a helpful term.  It reminds me that I need to develop a list of particularly unhelpful jargon.  I would start with imperialism.  I guess the basic rule is that any piece of jargon becomes much less useful not just when it is stretched to cover all kinds of stuff but when it is thrown around as an insult.  But that would probably both very neoliberal and imperialist of me to suggest that.

Sixth, what is worse than bad jargon?  Collegiality as a reason to deny someone tenure.  While it is nice to have nice colleagues, folks can use the “collegiality” criteria in ways that are not so collegial–to smuggle in excuses to deny a person tenure even if their research, teaching, and service is spectacular.  Sure, folks can vote against someone they dislike by twisting the research/teaching/service performance into whatever they want but collegiality really opens the door to such abuses.

Seventh, what is worse than collegiality clauses?  Ironically, that least collegial Secretary of Defense–Donald Rumsfeld.

Because this edition of Tuesday Linkage seems to take a tangent into my pet peeves, I will leave you with something a bit more pleasant: more Steve Martin.  The video link at the top is plays on Steve Martin’s mid-70s routine (yes, his old work is still burned deeply into my brain, perhaps because I never smoked pot at dusk) about when he would smoke pot:

I used to smoke marijuana. But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening – or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, midevening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-midafternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . But never at dusk! Never at dusk, I would never do that.

From A Wild and Crazy Guy (courtesy of wikiquote)