A History of New York in 50 Objects – NYTimes.com

How in heaven’s name did I miss this? It’s too cool, just like the BBC series that inspired it. A mastodon tusk.

A History of New York in 50 Objects – NYTimes.com:

Inspired by “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the British Museum’s BBC radio series and book, we recruited historians and museum curators to identify 50 objects that could embody the narrative of New York. (Recalling that adage about great minds: In March, Leonard Lopate asked his WNYC radio listeners to participate in a similar project.)

(Via www.nytimes.com)

Because you should always read anything by Stephen Coll that you can

Here is a terrific piece in the New Yorker on Why Do Americans Believe in Muslim Rage? A great quote:

Some of the protests appear to have been organized by fringe political parties and radical activists; for them, “Death to America” is a mobilizing strategy. The rioting they encourage is about Muslim rage only in a tautological sense: raging Muslims do the burning and looting, but they do not typically attract even a large minority of the local faithful. The faces on American screens are often shock troops, comparable to Europe’s skinheads or anarchists.

Go read.

The paper publishing process, and how to get famous in roughly 400+ years

One of the most misunderstood things about academic life is publication. Everybody knows “publish or perish.” Everybody. But nobody knows, or understands, how damn long it takes to get a paper done. They think we are ridiculous: after all, they wrote perfectly good papers in six hours the night before the paper was due! So we only teach twice a week and we write three papers a year at six hours each. Gah! Slackers.

John Whitehead explains the process in gory detail here. My question: he actually gets his page proofs in on time? Really?

Go read.

…and then you fall down

I have been catching up on my reading, and I chanced to read that Lia Lee died in Sacramento at the end of August. A terribly, terribly sad story, one that is hard to describe? Miss Lee lived on, after a terrifying seizure, much longer than many live in a vegetative state. At least she is free now, whatever lays beyond.

If you haven’t read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, I highly recommend it. Truly a life-changing book.

How do you teach privilege

Some very nice question posing in over the very nice blog Inequality by Interior Design: How do you teach privilege without perpetuating privilege?

In a description of running a discussion of Peggy McIntosh’s necessary “White Privilege Checklist”, TBridges writes:

In a more extreme example, students are asked to stand against a wall and to take steps away from the wall based on their answers to a series of questions about various advantages and disadvantages associated with their identities. So, depending on how you run this activity, the end result is either a group of young, able-bodied, heterosexual, white men standing against a wall watching other non-young, non-able-bodied, non-heterosexual, non-white, non-men walk away from them or vice versa.

While this seems like it might (and I stress might here) be a really powerful experience for the young, able-bodied, heterosexual, white men, I’ve always wondered what it might be like for everyone else in class.

In general, I have not found that the more privileged students react to the power of the exercise. I generally find a blowback–a lot of extreme anger, usually directed at me or McIntosh, and sometimes classmates–for daring to ripple the pond about how “we’re all equal now.”

I use a slight variant of the white privilege checklist; I also use class privilege questions, age privilege questions, and heteronormative privilege questions. I developed the quiz for my online class, and I leave the question about how many yes’s you have to have before you have to begin thinking about yourself as “privileged.” That makes it slightly less discomfiting, I think, for students, as they can answer anonymously rather than having to have to deal with each other and having their information just ‘out there.’

I’m not sure how it is working…I’ve been watching their online discussion, and thus far, they have treated each other with a great deal of decency. These are very mature students, however.

Octavian’s birthday….go hug a public administrator

Did you know that today is the birthday of Octavian, more commonly known as Augustus because, well, he was august. Whenever I read about Augustus, I think that nobody better personifies both the promise and peril of effective public administration more than him. This lecture discusses why. Go read, it’s short. Here’s the money quote:

He immediately faced four distinct problems. (1) He had to secure the northern frontiers against attack. Civil wars had involved the army and had led to a weakening of the frontiers of the border. (2) The army had grown too large and unmanageable: the army formed a state within a state. (3) The urban population and small farmers had to be helped. (4) His new government had to promote confidence among the senatorial class which was necessary for efficient rule.

The system had problems, but it worked, even in the hands of far, far less competent men, well for 200 years. And it might have lasted longer if the Romans had been as strategic about figuring out the rules of succession.

In other words, studies show that people treat women like crap, even though we’re all supposedly equal now

American Political Science Review

Gender Inequality in Deliberative Participation

a1 Brigham Young University
a2 Princeton University
a3 Portland State University


Can men and women have equal levels of voice and authority in deliberation or does deliberation exacerbate gender inequality? Does increasing women’s descriptive representation in deliberation increase their voice and authority? We answer these questions and move beyond the debate by hypothesizing that the group’s gender composition interacts with its decision rule to exacerbate or erase the inequalities. We test this hypothesis and various alternatives, using experimental data with many groups and links between individuals’ attitudes and speech. We find a substantial gender gap in voice and authority, but as hypothesized, it disappears under unanimous rule and few women, or under majority rule and many women. Deliberative design can avoid inequality by fitting institutional procedure to the social context of the situation.

And here’s a study that Larry Summers can draw on the next time he’s inspired to talk about how women are bad at science.

Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students [pdf]

Corinne A. Moss-Racusina, John F. Dovidiob, Victoria L. Brescollc, Mark J. Grahama, and Jo Handelsmana

Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science. In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent. We also assessed faculty participants’ preexist- ing subtle bias against women using a standard instrument and found that preexisting subtle bias against women played a moderating role, such that subtle bias against women was associated with less support for the female student, but was unrelated to reactions to the male student. These results suggest that interventions addressing faculty gender bias might advance the goal of increasing the participation of women in science.

How to be a mentor to a younger woman when you are an older man

This year at ACSP, I am participating in a panel on mentoring across differences for white women and younger faculty of color. I’ve been reflecting on the questions that I should ask as moderator. A quick web search reveals lots of resources for the discussion, but I am having trouble getting over my own annoyance. White women are privileged by white skin–there is no denying that–but a lot of the criticism I have seen directed at white women concerns their inability to mentor across difference.

Undoubtedly true.

Sometimes, however, you can’t give what you yourself have never received, and I have to say, in my male-dominated world, I’ve encountered two models of senior male-junior female mentoring, both of which are totally freaking whack, and both of which are aligned with the representations of Sarah Palin on one hand and Hillary Clinton on the other:

1) if said younger woman is pleasing and attractive, then there is the proud daddy mentor, who celebrates her every utterance with backflips of joy, just like he greets every properly deposited poo during potty training. While superficially supportive, this person really doesn’t take the younger woman seriously and, thus, undermines her by not fostering depth and development.

~~~~Sarah Palin~~~~

2) If said young woman is not pleasing or submissive, then there is the departmental dude who knows he should respect a woman who stands up to him, but who actually hates women that stand up to him. He will spend most of his time making sure that this young woman knows in subtle ways that she is not really secure in her position, and he will second-guess her every decision and encourage her to modify her ambitions downward, always downward, so that she doesn’t reach very far. Her male peers will have “developed” into “fine scholars.” They will always, always decribe her as “developing.” Never quite there, never quite good enough. As a result of not being quite where she needs to be in order to be a real authority, she will be told to keep silent, to keep the peace, and to not be so “divisive”. The undermining here is obvious.

~~~~~~~Hillary Clinton~~~~~~.

I have certainly had male mentors who are able to get over these problems. But my path is also littered with these two archetypes.

Here’s how men successfully work across difference:

They are both secure and humble. They get that young women face challenges to their authority that they, as men, have not faced, so they listen and work with younger women in the spirit of learning about those obstacles and helping their protege work through strategies that work for them. They also take on the role for advocating change institutionally when the young person is in no position to do so–again with some humility.

In short, don’t assume that your experiences or your understanding of your experiences necessarily mean the same thing across difference.

And don’t expect–and never– ask younger women to be less than they are.

Pogge on what it was like studying with John Rawls

Nothing about this conversation makes me envy Pogge any less for having the opportunity to work with Rawls.

I love the explanation of the Harvard training and context: talking fast, using dialogue as a competitition to “best” others rather than to share understanding and empower. I have no idea if that’s really the case, but that’s certainly how dialogue in the academy feels to me.