By way of Matt Zoller Seitz’s Twitter feed, “America as Afterimage in True Detective”. Alas, this article is totally overwritten, in the usual style of po-mo-infused semioticians. Still, some intriguing ideas and connections amid the thicket of verbiage.
Two Florida professors announce they have found the site of Fort Caroline, a French outpost ravaged by the Spanish in 1565, near Darien, Georgia — not near Jacksonville where it was thought to be. ‘The frustrating and often acrimonious quest to find the fort has become a sort of American quest for the Holy Grail by archaeologists, historians and other scholars,’ he noted. ‘The inability to find the fort has made some wonder if it ever existed.'”
But other researchers are saying hold up. “‘It’s not conceivable that the soldiers could have made it to the Altamaha River from St. Augustine in two days…If they are correct, then the Spanish would have moved the St. Augustine settlement 70 miles south, to its present location. There is simply no evidence for this,’ said Meide. ‘This new theory doesn’t stand up to the archaeological and historical information that has been amassed by scholars over the past fifty years.'”
Thus far, archaeologists have yet to scope the newly proposed site. So, with all due respect to fellow historians, I’d probably wait to see what they find first.
“Sarcasm detector…now that’s a really useful invention.” In Slate, Konstantin Kakaes explains how academic science journals have been routinely snookered by algorithmically-generated nonsense. “First, academic publishing became an enormously lucrative business. And second, because administrators erroneously believed it to be a means of objective measurement, the advancement of academic careers became conditional on contributions to the business of academic publishing.”
Another for the PhDon’t file: Im the Guardian, James Hoff sets the record straight about the reality of today’s academic factory floor. “The adjunct problem is about the continued exploitation of a large, growing and diverse group of highly educated and dedicated college teachers who have been asked to settle for less pay (sometimes as little as $21,000 a year for full-time work) because the institutions they work for have callously calculated that they can get away with it.” It’s a nightmare, people — avoid it if you can. (Adjunctimir via here.)
In a long, angry, and sadly on-point essay for The Baffler, Thomas Frank laments the corporatization (and demise) of the American university. “Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class…So tenured faculty find it easy to dismiss the de-professionalization of their field as the whining of second-raters who can’t make the grade…Then again, they will all be together, assuredly, as they sink finally into the briny deep.”
In very related news, an interested reader passes along this extended infographic on the adjunct crisis, which is excerpted above. Click through for the entire dismal story.
In a less-than-positive review of the administration’s recently-proposed higher education reforms — in short, Race to the Bottom for colleges — Tim Burke attempts to explain the madness behind Obama’s technocratic method. “Technocrats live in the wonderland of the question marks in the Underpants Gnomes business model, endlessly fussing over the exact terms of Point #1 and certain that the Profit! of #3 will follow.”
Also, I said this in the Virtually Speaking chat the other day, but we’ve tried this sort of business-minded technocratic leadership before in America — It didn’t pan out. (Burke post by way of Tropics of Meta.)
Deadspin’s Reuben Fischer-Baum conjures up a map of the highest-paid public employee in each state, and, yes, it’s usually a coach. By way of comparison, the college players actually bringing in all the revenue get…nada.
Leave this academic factory, you’ll find me in the matinee: Compounding life in the Nine Circles of Adjunct Hell, more and more college and universities are trying to game the system so they don’t have to pay for adjuncts’ health care coverage. Because if you’re going to exploit your desperate, over-educated workforce like it’s a Gilded Age factory floor, why not go all the way?
“What is happening — and I’m finding this even with just two classes—because of the grading load, I’ve been put in a position twice this semester where I’ve just had to lie about the number of hours I actually worked. I don’t want to have to make a choice between having a job or not.”
Another one for my burgeoning PhDont tag: Literature professor and Kafka scholar Rebecca Schuman explains once again why getting a humanities PhD is a terrible life decision these days. “No, you will not get a job – In the place of actual jobs are adjunct positions: benefit-free, office-free academic servitude in which you will earn $18,000 a year for the rest of your life.”
What she said: The jobs are not out there, the wheels have come off the tenure-track cart, and many people are in a bad way. I count my lucky stars every day that I had a prior career to fall back on.
Update: “More attorneys are finding themselves in plights similar to that of the thirty-four-year-old lawyer with more than $200,000 in school loans and a job that would never pay enough to retire them: ‘It’s a noose around my neck that I see no way out of.'” As Stephen Harper points out in Salon, law school isn’t the best answer either. “The promise of a secure future at a well-paying job is often illusory. The persistent problem of lawyer oversupply rose to crisis level, and the market for new talent has remained weak…For most of the nation’s forty-four thousand annual graduates today…positions were never there at all.”