Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Writing Like a Girl

By way of Genderquake, here's a fascinating web gizmo called Gender Genie that analyzes writing samples and then hazards a guess as to the author's gender. As she notes on her blog, genderquake's own prose is gendered male. By contrast, based on the analysis of my own horror stories post, the LumpenProf's prose is female. How cool is that? I'm intrigued by all this apparent trans-gendered writing and critical cross-dressing that is evidently rampant on academic blogs. I'm also wondering if Gender Genie's results are any more reliable than flipping a coin.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Radio Silence

A Look at Radio Silence: When Copyright Law Reform Goes Terribly Wrong:

This Tuesday, June 26, is a "day of silence" on which webcasters will protest the hike in Internet radio royalty rates, scheduled to become effective July 15, and to apply retroactively to January 1, 2006. Webcasters have also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for an emergency stay of the rates ruling.

The webcasters have an excellent point: Instead of increasing rates enough to properly compensate rights holders and encourage creation, the new rates are so unreasonably high that they are threatening the survival of an entire industry. Unless the new regulations are successfully repealed, the new rates will result in true perpetual "radio silence" for thousands of online radio stations - a loss for rights holders, distributors and consumers alike.

LumpenRadio and the rest of internet radio will be back tomorrow. Visit to help the fight to save internet radio.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where To Go?

I've probably worked in the sausage factory for too many years now to be the best spokesperson for the product. When I'm asked by friends and family what colleges I would recommend their son or daughter consider, I'm often stumped. I know a few places to stay away from, but I find it difficult to give specific positive recommendations.

One college I often mentioned positively was Antioch. Sadly, with its closing my short list of progressive institutions has shrunk further.

I'm once again being asked for college recommendations and I need some help. What schools do you recommend to bright and creative students who want to make the most of their college experience?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thinkingman's Dead

Steve Gimbel over at Philosophers' Playground has a new edited collection out, The Grateful Dead and Philosophy. In addition to just being way cool, the book also has an essay on the Dead, taping, digital commodities, and intellectual property rights. I'm going to have to get a copy soon.

the question about the relation between authorship and ownership -- which is quite similar to a discussion between Dead guitarist Bob Weir and Dead lyricist and Weir's longtime friend (and partner in crime back in their boarding school days) John Perry Barlow. Barlow has gone on to found the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting on-line access to information. One of the revolutions fomented by the Dead was their approach to intellectual property and McDaniel College philosopher Peter Bradley has a wonderful essay in the book discussing the Dead tapers' ethic and considering whether it should be used as the basis for a new approach to intellectual property.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Magic Sam

I love YouTube. Here's a video of Magic Sam. Magic Sam died in 1969 at the age of 32. I've never seen a video of him playing before, but I've listened to his records a lot. No doubt there's a useful connection to make between the blues and happiness, but I won't spoil the moment for you. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sage Advice

Limited, Inc. has been pursuing a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of the sage and the fool lately and, most recently, of the conventional gap between wisdom and happiness.

It has occurred to me more than once that this series of posts has more direct bearing than most on the recent discussions of graduate school and other ruminations on the state of the profession in academia.

My usual starting point on the relation between academia and happiness is that there is a certain amount of treason involved in not being happy if one is fortunate enough to occupy such enormously privileged positions as that of graduate student or professor. This line of thought, of course, leads to guilt and yet more unhappiness. However, LI writes:

As societies become more affluent, the pursuit of unhappiness emerges pretty quickly, and not just in fringe cultures. The sullenness of adolescence, the mid-life crises of middle age, the goth music grad student culture, these aren’t accidents. Affluence allows for what you might call different climates of temperament. Unhappiness is the purest response to the very idea that happiness is the ultimate parameter by which to judge one’s life and one’s society.
This resonates with much of the lived experience of academia where unhappiness is produced, cultivated, and distributed in too many subtle ways to be entirely accidental. It seems very plausible to me that this state of affairs is more structural and a direct effect of our economy of happiness rather than an aberration of it. It also tends to underscore one of LI's most recent and disturbing conclusions, "that as a social and individual ideal, happiness is fucked up."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Recent Acquisitions

A stack of new books just arrived. Here's what the LumpenProf will be reading over the rest of the summer:

For my writing project on digital commodities, there's Mark Poster's Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines along with Michel de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life because of an intriguing comment from Sisyphus.

For fun, there's also Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives because of LI's rave review and Dan Simmon's Olympos because I need to keep up my hard earned street cred as an sf geek.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Viral Sicko

Michael Moore is soliciting home videos from folks about their health care horror stories and collecting them together on his Sicko YouTube Group. He plans to take these videos to Congress as part of a lobbying effort for universal health care. There are already a couple of dozen videos posted and I imagine there will be thousands of these painful stories uploaded by the time Sicko is actually in the theaters.

I'm intrigued by this use of YouTube on both the viral marketing and viral activism fronts. We tell these stories to each other so often, people may find a powerful sense of solidarity in sharing what they so often experience as private, individual tragedies in this very public, collective way.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Annual Reports of Yore

I found this amazing document on trillwing's blog. It's the actual sample annual report from her University's Human Resources web site. As she notes, the final EEO/AA section is a particularly fine touch.

Little John Yeomanry

Employee Name Department

This provides an opportunity to reflect upon actual work completed during the evaluation period and ensure good communication of performance between employee and supervisor.

Use of this form is optional, but may be required by ANR Senior Management, Regional and County Director’s, Statewide Program Directors, REC Superintendent’s, Managers, Supervisors, and Advisors.

  1. Accomplishments related to each job function and performance elements.
  2. Accomplishments related to established goals and/or performance expectations
  3. Future goals and/or performance expectations
  4. Training and development needs, if any
  5. Support of ANR HR Human Resources Philosophy, affirmative action performance and job-related commitment to good interpersonal relations).
It's once again time to reflect on my past year's accomplishments. This is my fifth year as a member of the Merry Band.

Stealing from the Rich: As you know, 50% of my position is devoted to this job function. I'm pleased to report that I was able to increase highway robberies by 29% (five more than last year's record of 17). I also developed a one-time plan to tell the wicked Earl John that the Sheriff of Nottingham intended to keep King Richard's ransom. My plan was carried out last November, resulting in a loss to the Sheriff of 10,000 pieces of gold. We also planned to begin conducting train robberies in February 1001, but when we met in March, we decided to defer this plan pending the invention of the steam locomotive.

Giving to the Poor: In the other 50% of my position, I made need-based grants to 47 individuals whom we encountered on the road through Sherwood Forest (my assigned area). However, while filling in for Friar Tuck (who was on sabbatical at the Cordon Bleu), I also gave purses of silver to 4 millwrights and 3 cordwainers within his area.

Established Goals: Our Merry Band set a goal of enrolling four stout yeopersons by the end of fiscal 1000-1001. I'm happy to report that I was the one who spotted George o' the Green and Dame Softly looking for work at the Scarborough Fair and as a result of the negotiations with our Personnel Committee, they will probably join our band in July.

Future Goals: I believe that I could be more effective at Giving to the Poor if I could begin working an alternate work schedule, so as to catch the early morning and suppertime passers-by on the Sherwood Forest Road. If we are able to agree on an alternate work schedule, I believe I can increase my need-based grants by 10% during FY 1001-1002.

Training and Development: I am interested in increasing my technology skills and would like to attend "English Longbow for Fun and Profit." I will need the first three Fridays of December 1001 to attend the classes, and one hour per day during these weeks to practice on the Archery Field.

EEO/AA Opportunities: I do not have supervisory responsibilities, but in our campfire discussions I have spoken often about a nation that is neither Saxon nor Norman, but English.

Little John July 17, 1007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Horror Stories

I've been reading some of the posts on surviving graduate school being collected at To Delight and Instruct and occasioned by a post on Reassigned Time along with a response from Academic Cog. Just as women who are pregnant can rely on friends and strangers to inundate them with every imaginable horror story concerning labor and delivery, so new graduate students can expect to hear every horror story about graduate school. My apologies in advance for scaring any prospective grad students.

One of the first and most shocking revelations for me in my transition from undergraduate to graduate school was the realization that I was no longer loved. My undergraduate professors loved me. I was a bright, enthusiastic, articulate student who looked forward to going to class, did all the reading, participated freely in rowdy class discussions, and sometimes wrote essays that weren't awful. What's not to love? My graduate school career began with a reception for the new graduate students by the faculty complete with sherry served in plastic cups followed by two hours of threats concerning grades, financial aid, due dates, satisfactory progress towards the degree, incompletes, defense deadlines, committee approvals, etc. It was demoralizing. What was even stranger was that these were the very same professors that had loved me just last year. I went to graduate school at my undergraduate institution and yet I felt as if I had fallen down the rabbit hole. It was completely disorienting.

Over time, this is how I've come to think about this change to the higher stress and more combative nature of graduate education as opposed to undergraduate education: it is because their aims and purposes are very different. While producing a broadly educated, articulate, confident, freethinking citizen and life-long learner may be the goal of an undergraduate education; the aim of graduate education is something very different. Graduate school is about training the next generation of college professors. It is about the perpetuation of the species, and questions of paternity and the fidelity of faithful reproduction come to the forefront and often overshadow other concerns about fostering creativity and instilling confidence.

When students ask me if they should go to graduate school my starting advice tends to be "Don't do it." I also often recommend they read these posts on Should I go to graduate school? and How long should I search for an academic position? before they commit themselves to spending a decade of their lives in graduate school.

I do realize how terribly disaffected and bitter I sound. I don't like this part of myself and on most days I do a good job of resisting it. But the fact that I have to resist this bitterness is also part of what should to be considered, because I'm one of the very fortunate few. I finished my dissertation, have tenure, like my students, like my town, have a partner with tenure at the same institution, and have kids too. If even the success stories are this ambivalent about graduate school, then it probably pays to be at least a little cautious.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Colony Collapse Theory #812

There has been a great deal of speculation lately about Colony Collapse Disorder and the disappearance of the honey bee. Theories to explain this freakish phenomenon have run the gamut from mites, pesticides, genetically engineered crops, and global warming to studies linking Colony Collapse Disorder to cell phone usage. However, I now know the truth.

Today I stepped on my second honey bee in as many weeks. I have gone my entire life without ever stepping on a single bee. Now I've stepped on two, and even though I was wearing sandals both times I still managed to get stung on the bottom of my foot. Clearly, this explains Colony Collapse Disorder. Honey bees are now being trampled in record numbers. From my own recent survey of feet, the increase in bee tramplings has been astronomical.

And in addition to now having this vague sense of guilt over treading on a possibly endangered species, it also fucking hurts.

Dino Rides

From ars technica: " Last weekend was the first weekend [of] the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY." The picture above is of a saddled triceratops for the kids to ride. Evidently, this is how Adam and Eve used to ride 'em back in the garden. Among the other exhibits:

There were posters explaining just how coal could be formed in a few weeks as opposed to over millions of years and how rapidly the Biblical flood would cover the earth, drowning all but a handful of living creatures. The flood plays a big part in the museum's attempt to explain away what we see as millions of years of natural processes. There was also an explanation as to why, with only one progenitor family, it wasn't considered incest for Adam and Eve's children to marry each other. Apparently there was less sin back then, and therefore fewer mutations in their DNA. Evidently sin, not two copies of the same recessive trait, gives rise to congenital birth defects. As you walk through the museum, the contorted reasoning to explain the formation of the Grand Canyon in hours or the rapid creation of thousands of breeds of dogs in a matter of weeks is augmented by what can only be described as a house of horrors about the dangers of abortion and drugs and the devil's music.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Philosopher Kings

This article on Workplace Blog caught my eye. I found it almost oddly encouraging:


June 4, 2007 -- THE State University has secretly granted the largest pay raise in public payroll history - an eye-popping $141,995-a-year - to a little-known, Ferrari-driving professor who is already the highest-paid official in New York, The Post has learned.

It was revealed earlier that Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, the head of SUNY's state-of-the-art College of Nanoscale Science and Technology in Albany, was earning $525,000-a-year.

Then last week, SUNY officials - without any notice to the public - granted Kaloyeros, 51, the unprecedented raise, bringing his annual state salary to $666,995.

Gov. Spitzer, by contrast, is paid $179,000 a year.

A state where scholars are the highest paid employees and professors and school teachers all drive Ferraris is one I could happily endorse.

Sadly, in this case it's not some hard working Proust scholar who is the recipient of this largess, but the head of a high-tech, grant-getting, public-private, computer-chip manufacturing research consortium with Department of Defense ties aplenty.

This doesn't really match the scenario I've envisioned for philosopher kings, although the salary is about right.

Some Unlikely Searches

Here are some unusual searches that have brought folks to this site:

"pictures of woodland animal sculls"
animation "the animals" polish
mortarboard animation
does deadwood contain nudity (probably this deadwood rather than this deadwood)
tenure process nightmare (ok, so this one is accurate)
salvador dali tattoos (oddly enough, this one is also accurate)
"fuck your war"
deleuze summer camp
Finally, there was this one:
picachu nude

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Fair(y) Use Tale

A discussion of copyright fair use in Disney characters' own words from Eric Fadden at Bucknell. Amazing.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Where Are You?

This grim map of U.S. war dead by home town is from Iraq Coalition Casualties. Iraqi deaths are beyond grim.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


This is by way of Abject Learning. Someone needs to explain this to me: Twitter.

Wikipedia describes it as "a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send ... text-based posts, up to 140 characters long." It's like a minimalist chat room, but with thousands posting all at once. It's very strange. It's very large. And I may be the last person on the internet to know about it.

What do you do with this? What can you do with this? I'm puzzled and intrigued and would love to hear from folks who are using this for academic purposes or for any purpose for that matter. Please. Explain it to me.