Monthly Archives: October 2008

Friendship Around the World Award

Geoffrey Philp, one of the very best bloggers, has given me a Friendship Around the World Award, and now I get to award it. I am very much honored to have won this award from Geoffrey Philp. I will not award it to any blogs on Philp’s list, although I would have chosen some of these blogs otherwise, especially POEFRIKA. I will try to award it to nobody to whom I have given an award to before, although I am not looking back. I am not listing blogs I have not actually communicated with, much though I may like them. I am not listing any blogs of people I met IRL first. I am trying to emphasize non U.S. blogs, although I am including some U.S. ones. I was born to be friends with MORPHOLOGICAL CONFETTI and the UNAPOLOGETIC MEXICAN but I have already given them too many awards. And they are in the United States, like AUTOMATIC PREFERENCE and the CHANGESEEKER, whom I would also have liked to include here. Finally, I am trying to avoid listing professors as much as possible, although I have included some, anyway. But that is how I am now snubbing HISTORIANN and the ANGRY PROFESSOR, both loyal Americans (voting Democratic next month!) who offered me shelter from Hurricane Ike. This list is in alphabetical order, with numbers first.

112. Deep activist thinker. This award is shared with Servetus, WoC PhD, and Hattie. We critique academia.

13 Stoploss. Has content and can write. This is a very understated recommendation.

A Room Of Our Own. By the first person I didn’t know to ever comment on my blog!

Antrobiótica. From México, D.F. No longer posting but still the most literate blog in the known universe.

Anxious Black Woman. She is a professor. If this is just her blog, what must her classes and books be like? I have given her blog an award before, but I cannot resist.

Choledad Privada. A humorously serious, non-academic and intelligent blog about race and culture, from the grass roots up, organized in Lima. It insists that we recognize our inner cholo, a concept the authors explain in person.

Dissent. Some of the very best professors, serious about teaching, research, politics, art. And they are having fun! It is as though a 19th century German research university had met a California community college and had a brood of children incorporating the best aspects of each.

Georgia Popplewell/Caribbean Free Radio. Great music, news, and cultural commentary from Port of Spain, that place which feels so much like home. Reach out and touch it.

Jennifer Cascadia Emphatic. Theory currently emanating from Western Australia. Bracing.

Honorable mentions go to Ridwan Laher in South Africa, Peru Food on one of the world’s great unknown cuisines, Sarhua, un sitio tan lleno de cultura y ternura que da ganas de llorar, and Tasneem Khalil, who speaks for himself, and whom I admire ustedes no saben cuánto.



Filed under Juegos, News

Ways to Oppress Girls in School: Open Thread

Having been the recipient of wisdom which was also undermining, although I did not realize it at the time, having had important information withheld from me and/or not having had access to it, and having had basic principles pronounced at me as the ultimate in new wisdom when I have said things which did not actually contradict these but went beyond them (and were therefore taken for misunderstandings), I have finally noted that these were largely strategies to oppress girls in school.

It is interesting that I did not receive any of these pieces of information until graduate school, that the rain of them was stepped up when it became apparent I would finish graduate school, and that it has not stopped. We will therefore begin to make a list of these statements. This is an open thread. Please comment.


Graduate Student Z: I am not going to that event because I am studying for my Ph.D. exam.

Whiteman: Do you not realize that to take an exam you do not have to write the history of the world, all you have to do is answer questions?

Graduate Student Z (with slight frown). Yes, well this is not the History department, which is indeed more demanding. Our exam only covers 70 primary texts. Questions may speak to secondary texts or other works, but each must each focus on one of the primary texts listed. So the exam does not cover the history of the world, it only asks certain specific questions.

I am getting ready for those and I am studying 36 hours per week. I work 25 hours. This adds up to 61 hours already, and then you have to add in the classes I am auditing and the rest of life. I have discovered that in 36 hours I can really only cover five primary texts, and 70/5=14, and a semester is 15 weeks, and the examination is in finals week, so I really cannot sacrifice any of those 36 hours.

The plan I have made gives me completely flexible time only on Fridays at 5 to Saturdays at 7, and Sundays from 11 to 7. That is an entire period of more than 24 hours, and the greater part of a whole day, every single week. I am available to attend events at these times.

Whiteman: I see. You do believe you must write the history of the world. And you are very controlling. Did you not know that was a bad thing?


Other strange pieces of advice and lore I have received include, but are not limited to:

You are so good at administration, you should manage this project of mine for me, it will be good for our department.

You are not in graduate school any more, so you should give up your dreams of research. You are here to teach.

Teaching is not valued, so you should do as poor a job of it as possible.

If you did a good job teaching, it is because you wasted inordinate amounts of time on it.

You will never write.

You will never get anything published.

It is selfish of you not to be married.

Because you have a career, it is selfish of you to imagine having anything else.

You will never try.

Because you go swimming every day, you do not suffer enough to be an academic.

You will not finish your degree on time.

Because you are blond, you cannot be intelligent.



Filed under News

Positive Thinking Has Wrecked the Economy

I am really glad someone has expounded upon this.

Positive thinking is endemic to American culture – from weight loss programs to cancer support groups – and in the last two decades it put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person” — doubt-free, uncritical, and smiling—and no one becomes a CEO by issuing warnings of possible disaster.  According to a rare skeptic, a Washington-based crisis management consultant I interviewed on the eve of the credit meltdown in 2007, even the magical idea that you can have whatever you truly want has been “viral” in the business culture….



Filed under News

A New Whiteman


PZ: You want me to engage in a major service project to benefit you, and you will stay here if I succeed within three years? Who are you, again?


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Filed under Da Whiteman

Cool Sounds of Monday

Obama ’08 – Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

Via Momo. As cool as Mt. Tamalpais. As majestic as Drake’s Bay.


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Filed under Movement, Songs

Lara! Lara!

I always did like the month of October, so maybe it is just that, but I have this strange feeling that something is about to happen. I do not know what it could be. This has been a beautiful weekend, although I have not taken advantage of it at all. I have done virtually nothing but sit home and write.

Now I am surveying in the half light the yard work that needs to be done and the paint job the house will soon need. I am afraid the leak in my roof may have rotted part of an outside wall. I need to crawl through the attic and look. The white picket fence, an item I happen to have in my possession, needs painting now, and I am going to do it although this particular item does not correspond at all to my identity. The chives and bananas, the mushrooms, basil and mint are growing so fast, they seem like those accelerated movies of flowers blooming we saw in elementary school, except that in this climate they really do almost double in size every week. You have to eat them.

Really I am just me and just here, but physically the person I was has risen within me. I recognize all the muscles and bones. I have the distinct impression I am watching the sun set in the distance over the Pacific, like stout Cortez, and realizing with wild surmise that although it is indecorous to think so I am ready for tomorrow’s test.

I feel like someone who has been in training and is now ready to jump up and volley anything. I feel ready for questions on footnotes to the Cantos of Ezra Pound. I feel ready even for illegal questions on Virgil or Horace, or on the ablative absolute. I could discuss Mallarmé or Melville. I could explain Mariátegui, Machado de Assis, or the Archpriest of Hita. I could tell you what Fanon would have thought of Derrida. I feel like Brian Lara.

I feel lively like a can of V-8 juice. I feel like a V-8 engine, with power it is unlikely to need but could use in an instant if necessary. I remember best the most pleasant and interesting aspects of the past. I feel that the present is large, the roads broad, and the ceilings high. The Lima acupuncture sessions appear to have worked.

Sur ce, je vous laisse. Au moins pour l’instant. Le blog, il a fait son travail, et moi, je dois écrire mes livres. Je pourrai bien revenir. J’arriverai peut-être demain même. Mais si je suis inconstante, ou si je me repose, ne vous inquiétez pas. Vous me verrez toujours sur vos sites, et à mon Séminaire Permanent.



Filed under News

I Can’t Help Myself

…from reposting this, and pointing everyone to Momo‘s posts on this matter.

In one apartment we used to move the dining table to one side and try to imitate the Four Tops. The hit sound! From Motown! we would shout.


Other great posts now include Historiann on single payer health care and videos of Obama and McCain at the Alfred E. Smith dinner, at the Rap Up, where I saw them first. Also Roberto Lovato on La Pequeña Sarah Palin, Rethabile’s poem On the Death of a Friend’s Father, Lumpenprofessoriat on how professors spend their time, Slaves of Academe on the current political-economical juncture, and Kit’s Jamal the Plumber.

On the video Lovato links to – do you find it offensive? I have gotten on other peoples’ cases about misogynistic parodies of Palin and this one seemed that way to me also – almost. Then I thought, no. I am really not sure, but I do think some of the defense of Palin as “woman” is actually a defense of whiteness. I am concerned about this:

In what is probably a harbinger of things to come, the McCain campaign has already run a commercial that carries a similar intimation, accusing Mr. Obama of being “disrespectful” to Sarah Palin. The argument is muted, but its racial antecedents are very clear.



Filed under Arts, Movement, Songs

Those Big, Bright, Gumdrop Unicorns, or New Assistant Professors

Dear Gumdrop Unicorns,

When you tell me that if our department has not, within three years, accomplished the things you would like it to accomplish, you will go on the market, all I can really think of to say is start now. If what you want done is to be accomplished in five years, concrete work toward that must begin now, and you must be an active participant in this work. You cannot just order it up. Also, I assume everyone is on the market, and I have no problem with this. And if you want to rise as quickly as you say you do, you will have to go on the market.

Just because I have, as you say, excellent administrative skills, does not mean I should drop my projects in favor of your large service project, although I really would like to see your project succeed as well. I can support your project, and I can give you some useful information. I can be a co-principal investigator, but I will not be a principal investigator. Neither will I be a co-principal investigator doing the work of a principal investigator. In addition: since if you want done all the things you want done, you will have to be a major player in these projects, the most useful thing you can do at this point is learn English.

Just because you have not asked what my research plans are, what plans I have to seek funding, and why, does not mean I do not have priorities and plans, made before your arrival and not changed by it. You are going to have to do your own work. Please note that asking How do I … ? is one thing, and I am glad to answer. But I want, and I know you are good at administration, and I assume you feel very lucky to have me here, so get me this … is a very different kind of statement and request.


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Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops

On Bernadette. Rolling into Heaven.



Filed under Songs

On Mental Slavery

I knew the first week of my first job that I did not want to be a professor, at least not in the kind of institution – and there is an archipelago of them, rather like a gulag – to which I was now bound. I looked about me and was horrified: all the other professors, including the new professors, were DEAD! “Help, help, have mercy,” I shouted to the saints, “I am well under thirty-three yeas of age, I am too young to die!” I could have decided to quit effective the end of the year and did not, partly because I thought I should “give it a chance,” partly because I had no savings, and partly because I was still curious about what would happen next.

Three of my friends did actually quit after their first year – one because she was not ambitious enough for the sacrifices one makes to be a professor to be worthwhile, another because she was ambitious enough that when she saw this was all there was, she instantly knew she wanted more, and the third because she did not like her job and was married to a man based in the East. I remember my reactions. About the first, I was amazed that anyone would actually finish a Ph.D. and then choose a secretarial job. About the second and third I thought, nice work if you can get it, but I do not have an annuity to supplement my income as did the second, or a spouse paying the mortgage, as did the third. In reality and in retrospect, I think I stayed on because was secretly the one most interested in being an academic.

So I stayed on, but I have not done particularly well. After the eighth year I decided to quit and laid my plans, but was talked back. That was when I decided to give up ambivalence and commit to being a professor, but in practice it merely meant that I felt enslaved. I have gone back and forth about what the problem could be – was I not interested, or unsuited, or what? Now Hattie has diagnosed the problem – it is the unfreedom. Do not neglect to read her brilliant comments thread.

Now I have taken up ambivalence about academia once again and I am liberated. It makes me much more efficient because the meaning of doing work has changed. It is only for now, is my current thought, whereas before I was looking at 25 or 30 immutable years. Now everything is lighter and more interesting and more efficient. Everything is as it was before tenure and before committing, when what one was doing had to do with one’s future and with the things one liked and was curious about, and when things still might change any day, when life was not over, but lay ahead.

For years I felt I was lying in a grave. It was still open but if one tried to climb out, the tombstone slammed shut and stayed on tight for several months. Now I feel as though I were walking along, up hill, down dale.



Filed under News, What Is A Scholar?