Friday, October 07, 2005
More on Yesterday's CFP
One thing that disturbs me about the academic/leftist reaction to a panel like this is the immediate counter-argument that this is just one panel, and that it's not in any way indicative of academia as a whole. But how many times do we have to point out "just one panel" before the number of such panels finally makes it clear that while such blatant bias and shameful lack of scholarly aspirations as we saw in yesterday's CFP are not the norm, academic conferences--literary academic conferences, mind you--are filled with panels that exhibit their biases hidden only by the obfuscating language of theory, and with panels that do not seek to ask questions, but to propagate "truths."
Two years ago, I spent a lot of time on this blog looking through college catalogs, examining the offerings of English departments, and finding that much of what was on offer was not really focused on literature at all, but on politics and on a very leftist brand of sociology. I also went through the MLA Conference program, with the help of a few people who were emailing me suggestions (Blogger had no comments function back then), and found numerous panels and papers that could only be said to be on a topic of relevancy to the MLA through the most contorted theoretical reasoning. Last year, I didn't bother to go to MLA, and I let my membership lapse whenever I'm not on the market, so I didn't receive the program, but emails I received from colleagues and from others who are interested in what academia has become emailed me with some of the details, and the only difference I could find was that the level of political bias had increased, and there was more of the MoveOn.org type of nonsense than ever before. This year, knowing that panels and papers were proposed after the end of the 2004 election, I expect the conference to be even more politically charged. I guess we'll see in a couple of weeks whether or not I'm right.
But the point is that there is a pattern here. This is not just one isolated incident, but a laying bare of what has been going on all along. This particular professor was either not clever enough to make his intentions for this panel ambiguous, or, more frighteningly, he just didn't care, because he felt no need to hide his blatant bias on the CFP listserv, where he assumed that all readers would share his biases and that they would cause no stir.
And this assumption is common. My own colleagues speak around me as if I were a committed leftist, and I regularly listen to them trying to figure out how they can convert their students to a left way of thinking--"enlighten" them, to their way of thinking, but there is no effort to hide the fact that their brand of enlightenment is firmly entrenched in leftist ideology, and that one of their major goals as professors is to reveal to students the errors in their thinking, which they assume to be red state Republican, handed down from their parents, who are also assumed to be red state Republican.
And the other academic listservs I'm on are the same. Discussion regularly veers off into politics, and the content differs little from the sorts of things you hear on Air America. In fact, I have even seen professors recommending Air America broadcasts as unbiased sources of information for their students on these lists, making the argument that the mainstream media is far too conservative to be trusted to deliver the truth.
So yesterday's CFP wasn't really that much of an aberration. Yes, it was more blatant that a lot of things I've seen in print, but as I think about it, it's no less blatant than what I hear or read my colleagues talking about when they think they are safely ensconced in their cocoon of leftism. Indeed, yesterday's CFP is a pretty accurate indicator of the thinking of about 80% of academics I've come into contact with, and it's the kind of thinking that is steering course offerings, conference offerings, and publications.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Check Out this Call for Papers
Well, here's something that came over the English CFP list out of UPenn. I cannot believe the audacity of this individual, and I hope that if you're reading this blog and you're a blogger, that you'll report this atrocity on your blog and get the word out. This is quite possibly the most blatant admission of academic bias I've come across in a decade and a half in academia, and certainly the most pathetic excuse for an academic panel I can possibly imagine.
Citizens of Kansas--your tax dollars are paying this guy's salary, and have been since the 1970s.
Date: 5-Oct-2005 16:40:47 -0500
Subject: CFP: The Secret Lives of the Conservatives (10/24/05; KSU CSC, 3/9/06-3/11/06)
I invite papers for a panel to be held at the fifteenth annual Cultural
Studies Conference at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, March
9-11. Papers can be on a wide variety of topics related to the conference
theme of privacy and secrecy and the public sphere.
Papers on specific instances are welcomed, and papers considering a
variety of issues and concerns: tabloidization and the neutralization of
the political; the personal as political; hypocritical Puritanism; the
defense by offense; vast right wing conspiracies; "outing" as a political
tactic; scandal amnesia; "spin" and tactical framing; true evil beneath
the compassionate, Christian front; why nothing makes a difference; left
tactics and despair; the politics of denial and shame; business secrecy
vs. personal secrecy; liberal vs. conservative secret lives; sexual dysfunction in conservatives; Laura Bush's private life; scholarly muckraking and shockjocking.
Send brief, 200 word abstracts by email, not attachment, to Don Hedrick,
along with a very brief bio, to Don Hedrick, Department of English, Kansas State University, at email@example.com, by October 24. Inquiries welcome.
From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
Full Information at
or write Jennifer Higginbotham: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: A comment over at Critical Mass points out the propensity among the Democrats to "out" their political opponents--such as outing Mary Cheney's daughter, but the comment didn't go where I thought it was going to go, something I wish I'd thought to point out last night. Doesn't this bozo appreciate the irony of asking for people to come and whine about outing as a political tactic and in the next breath to come and talk about Laura Bush's private life? The comment skirts around this fact, but I was waiting for the skewer, so I went ahead and provided it here.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Saturday Night Boozing
We're watching Lost in Translation tonight, something we've seen before but which I decided to TiVo anyway. I never feel like I've really seen a film until I've seen it at least twice. A nice film--excellent freshman effort from Sofia Coppola.
And there's my segue back into alcohol, since there are those little pink cans of sparkling wine (Champagne only comes from the region of Champagne, and I'm sure I've said more than enough in a couple of years' worth of blogging to piss of the French already) named for Sofia Coppola.
Tonight we're drinking an excellent find. Kendall-Jackson's 2002 Collage, a blend of 76% Zinfandel and 24% Shiraz. It has the jamminess of a Zin with the pepperiness of a Syrah/Shiraz. And, it goes with tomato sauce, which I find most wine doesn't. $6.99 on sale at the local supermarket. Definitely worth it.
And, when the bottle is polished off, I've decided to have a small tumbler of Ardbeg Uigeadail. Somehow, I think it's better than the Santori whiskey Bill Murray is hawking in Lost in Translation.
Friday, August 26, 2005
A Pop Culture Blog?
Should I just start posting about television, film, and video games, and screw academia?
I guess I'll get started on television shows 11-20 right away.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Top Ten Shows
1. Star Trek: This has been my favorite show since I first saw "The Immunity Syndrome" at my grandmother's house at the age of five. Classic science fiction and great chemistry between "The Big Three." Good allegorical episodes and good human epsiodes. There are also no easy answers to the big questions raised, as in "A Private Little War," a thinly-veiled Vietnam allegory in which Kirk defends his decision to arm the Hill People to fight against the Villagers, who have been armed by the Klingons. A great show, but also one that is like going home to visit family. In fact, the death of DeForest Kelley was like losing family. I met him once--a very, very nice man.
2. South Park: Nothing makes me laugh harder, and by God, I don't feel guilty about it, either. Just finished watching the kindergarten class president episode, and the parody of the 2000 election was dead on. This show, unlike the unjustly touted Daily Show, takes swipes at all sides, and all of them are well-deserved, like the episode with Saddam and his "chocolate chip factories" in heaven and God's complete inability to see through the deception. On South Park, everybody gets served. And if you don't agree with me, well, then I've got something in my front pocket for you.
3. Family Guy: This was almost number two, but South Park beats it by a smidgen. However, this show has made me lose a contact once or twice, I've laughed so hard. I think my favorite episode is the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory parody. The Chumba-Wumbas singing to the crippled Joe: "What do you do when you're stuck in a chair? / Finding it hard to go up and down stairs. / What do you think of the one you call God? / Isn't his his absence slightly odd? / Maybe he's forgotten you." That's evil and I shouldn't laugh, but I do. Not quite until I pee my pants, but awfully damned close.
4. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The best of the modern Treks, none of the gaggy PC crap that plagued The Next Generation or the crappy writing and acting that plagued Voyager. I didn't like it when it first came out, but it gradually grew on me, and I've recently rewatched the whole series, thanks to SpikeTV and TiVo and Netflix. The best episode? "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges." Agent Sloan, of the secret "Section 31" tells the somewhat naive Dr. Bashir, whom he's tricked into undertaking an ethically dubious mission, "The Federation needs men like you, Doctor. Men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You're also the reason Section 31 exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn't share your sense of right and wrong." Damn straight.
5. Battlestar: Galactica: The new one, not the old one, though I confess that the old one is a guilty pleasure. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the remake. "Starbuck's a chick?!? Bullshit PC casting." Was I wrong. This is not your father's Battlestar: Galactica, but it's one of the best shows on television right now. No surprise that the people behind Deep Space Nine are involved--it has the same moral and ethical ambiguity that made DS9 a classic. Still not sure what they're going to do with the fight between the militaristic Adama and the touchy-feely lefty President Roslin, but they are not making the politics simple, that's for sure.
6. As Time Goes By: I almost didn't put this one on, because it is technically a "dutiful" show, as anything starring Dame Judi Dench must be. But I love this show, and am about to plunk down $150 for the boxed-set DVDs. Spending half an hour with Jean and Lionel is like putting on your most comfortable stay-at-home outfit, and Judy, Sandy, Alastair, Rocky, Madge, Mrs. Bale, Lol Ferris, and all of the rest are fantastically well-written and well-acted characters. I almost cried when this show was over, and I still find that watching the final episode makes me sad. I wanted Jean and Lionel to stick around forever, reading Winnie the Pooh and other classics in that big, feather-stuffed bed in their comfy, Holland Park flat. Lionel, I'll join you down the pub for a swift half any day.
7. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: You have to have watched a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons as a kid to get this one, but former superhero Birdman is now an attorney, and he defends his fellow cartoon characters in court. Highlights include "The Dabba Don," in which Fred Flintstone is a Tony Soprano-style mob boss (complete with a BEAUTIFUL opening sequence of Fred driving through Bedrock to a parody of The The's Sopranos theme song) and another episode in which Shaggy and Scooby are up on drug charges, pulled over while driving The Mystery Machine. (Turns out they aren't stoned--just really really stupid.) This is one of the most clever cartoons on The Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim," and I hope for a few more seasons of it. Hah hah!!
8. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer: Another one I was dragged into kicking and screaming--sounded like a really stupid premise, and more MTV style programming for Generation Y, or whatever the hell they're called--but a show which I wound up really enjoying, at least up through season five, with selected episodes in six and seven. Joss Whedon is a good writer, and he understands how to do tongue-in-cheek without going over the top. The characters are well-written and well-performed (save for the poor girl who played Tara), and there's just a comic edge to this show that the various pretenders haven't managed to capture at all. Plus, Charisma Carpenter's a babe. Why isn't she on television anymore?!?
9. Barney Miller: Yes, I did watch television before the 90s. This was a classic 1970s sitcom, with a fantastic ensemble cast, in all of its various permutations. James Gregory's appearances as Inspector Luger are probably some of my favorite moments, particularly those last episodes, where he orders the bride from Asia. And we can all thank God that Yemana doesn't work at our local Starbucks. James Gregory and Jack Soo, rest in peace.
10. Magnum, P.I.: I'm not sure how to explain this one, save to say that a couple of years ago, I stayed up every night until 3AM to catch the reruns on the Hallmark Channel, reliving fond memories of watching them at my parents' house back in the 80s. Great ensemble cast, and just a fun show. The whole Vietman vet angle always worked well--the camaraderie between Thomas, Rick, and T.C. always seemed real and undefeatable. And of course Higgins: "Oh . . . my . . . God, Magnum!" Hard to believe Jonathan Hillerman is a Texan. Tom Selleck's camel toe can be a bit offputting at times, though. Why did men wear such short shorts in the early 80s?
Okay, so I'm supposed to put this little baby at the end of this post: 10shows.
This was fun. Maybe I'll do 11-20 on my own.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
And Apparently I'm Catch 22
by Joseph Heller
Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of people.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
by James Joyce
Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Hmm. Interesting to be a book which, I must confess, I've never read.
Do I really not make any sense? (No answers from left-wingers, please.)
I am content to wander around aimlessly, though, particularly here:
There was a York episode this morning on Location, Location, Location. I need an all-expenses paid U.K. trip.