Saturday Waffling (September 21st, 2013)


Chapter 3 of Last War in Albion is 9824 words long. This is not a bad length - the first two chapters are  11,577 and 12,54. So it's in range.

Which would be comforting if I weren't aware of how much there was to finish. Thankfully the first 2000 words are solid, so I can slice a post off the top and make Thursday's deadline, but having the ebook together... ooh, that's dicier. 

Once I stagger past the finish line on that, it's time for some focus on Wonder Woman for a bit.

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of stuff about academia whizzing about the blogonet this week. Some of you have surely seen this story, but I figured I'd repost it for those who haven't. Death of an Adjunct

tl;dr - a part-time professor at Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh, died in crushing poverty after twenty-five years of service to the University. Which is citing a religious objection to unionizing its adjuncts (curious, given the historical links between the Catholic church and the American labor movement). The university asserts that it gave the late Margaret Mary Vojtko a dorm room to stay in when she could not afford to heat her house, and that priests visited with her frequently as she battled cancer (which bankrupted her). Because nothing says supporting someone who's worked for you for a quarter-century like a dorm room and a pat on the shoulder as they're dying.

No active question for discussion this Waffling. Just a shuddering anger at the ruins of a once proud profession.


Froborr 7 years, 4 months ago

Increasingly, I'm noticing, it seems that every once-proud profession is in ruins. Is there anything that runaway capitalism hasn't devoured?

This week there was a mass shooting at Navy Yard, which is about 15 minutes' walk from my apartment. I wrote a thing about about it, which (continuing the primary theme of my blog, which is being a pale shadow of Phil's) owes a pretty obvious debt to the first half of Phil's TV Movie article, but then goes off to do what I hope is its own thing.

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Spacewarp 7 years, 4 months ago

As an Englishman, I find such a story so incomprehensible, as to be unable to make any comment on it. If it had happened in some African or Eastern European country then people in the UK would nod sagely and say that yes they do things differently over there.

But when it comes to the US, we in the UK tend to think of you as essentially just a larger version of us, with a funnier accent and a lot more guns.

However stories like this show that in some ways the US is as far beyond our understanding as any Middle Eastern country.

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C. 7 years, 4 months ago

Phil, as you're obviously far more up on academic politics than I am: is it feasible at all for adjuncts to create a national union? And then strike right when it hurts the university the most: during finals week or something? Otherwise I just don't see how this situation changes. Adjuncts get paid so poorly now that they have little left to lose.

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Theonlyspiral 7 years, 4 months ago

I loathe academia. I had a flaming post about abuse of power by administration, and a failure by academics to remain relevant and allied with the people who could support them best - the public.

But blogger ate it.

Long and short of it: Academia as an institution has allowed itself to become irrelevant to many people and this has allowed administrations to get away with murder. At this point in my career I just want my Law Degree and to turn my back forever.

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Mark Pontin 7 years, 4 months ago

I have both UK and US residence, and know both places, and can tell you two things:

[1] David Cameron and his chums are working hard on behalf of their owners to create the same situation in the UK. So-called elites are pushing their looting programs everywhere.

[2] The US didn't used to be like this, and parts of it -- it's a much bigger country -- still aren't, especially if you know how to play the game. As this poor lady unfortunately didn't.

So don't be so assured about your own situation and so dismissive of the US. In some ways, the rot -- and the elite looting -- is worse in the UK.

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Dave 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm just now writing a letter to my school's paper about the necessity of broader campus democracy to counteract administrative bloat and perpetual cycles of construction. In particular I'm addressing student power (arguing along the lines of "tuition funding has replaced state funding and now we have all this debt; it's our money for our education so we should demand a binding voice"), but obviously adequate representation for non-tenured faculty and graduate employees is a huge deal too. They get steamrolled by administrators every damn year.... Currently my school is conducting a presidential search, and for the first time, nobody who isn't administration/tenured is represented on the search committee. Neglect has dulled the edge of my rhetorical abilities, though, so if anybody has any good talking points for this thing I would love to appropriate them :)

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