Spring arrived in force in Northeast Missouri this week. The world is starting to turn green, but the leaves around town have largely been preceded by an explosion of flowering things. I can’t complain about the views and the rising temperatures have drawn students out into the quad outside my office, making campus generally feel more alive than it does throughout the winter.
However, spring also comes at a cost. I have never been one to suffer from allergies in the past, but one of these flowering things causes my sinuses to go haywire each spring in Kirksville, which has made teaching classes a bit of an adventure this week. This phase only lasts a couple of weeks, fortunately, and the nice weather almost cancels out the temporary pain. Besides, I’ll be complaining about the heat again soon enough.
This week’s varia:
- The SCS Blog has a piece profiling Chiara Sulprizio, the former chair of the Contingent Faculty Committee.
- The Hill has an opinion piece about the myth of liberal indoctrination in schools, with evidence. Their argument is that a more concerning trend is for students to shy away from addressing controversial topics. This is also an issue for professors who might approach material differently, or gloss over the potentially controversial issues when they are on contingent contracts.
- Nicole Chung writes about the steep costs of pursuing a writing career, especially when you don’t have the security of generational wealth. This same conversation is circulating within my corner of academia.
- Rutgers unions have been striking and, unusually, the unions for tenured faculty have been standing in solidarity with those for other workers on campus, saying that they will not agree to a deal until the administration addresses the demands of the lowest-paid academic workers.
- Scott Hines (ActionCookBook) reflects on his Substack about what it is like to live in America, juxtaposing the trained belief in the American Dream with the violent reality.
- Governor Greg Abbott of Texas is asking the pardon board in that state to let him pardon Daniel Perry, who a jury convicted of murder for killing a man who approached his car at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. The trial revealed that Perry had talked on multiple occasions about going to protests and so that he could use Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” laws to shoot protesters.
- NPR has decided to no longer use any of its 52 official Twitter feeds after the company started mislabeling these accounts as “state-affiliated media,” which would put the news outlet on the same footing as the propaganda wings of China and Russia. I once joked to a friend that I’m still using Twitter because of “squatter’s rights” given that I joined Twitter before Musk did, but more and more I have to admit that the only thing keeping me there is a fifteen year addiction to information.
- H&H Bagels in New York has come up with a plan to skirt a “prepared foods” tax for bagels and cream cheese: piping cream cheese into the bagel after its baked. The picture in the article looks like a particularly gross bagel, but while I have a few reservations about the idea itself, I’m not as opposed as I thought I would be.
- The Attorney General of Missouri issued a sweeping new guidelines for gender affirming care in the state, putting limits with few carve-outs even for adults. The release from the AG’s office cites cherry-picked scientific studies and statistics about the risks of these treatments that elide how these statistics stack up against other forms of medical care. Then again, this is also a state where a state legislator has multiple times spoken in favor of couples as young as 11 or 12 to be legally married. That legislator has insisted that he does not endorse adults getting married children that young, just that the children should be allowed to marry each other before graduating elementary school.
- Pro Publica has further information about the financial relationships between Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow—this time property purchases that are even more firmly required to be reported.
- This week there was a slew of reporting on the “Discord Leaks,” where a young military intelligence officer in the Air Force leaked hundreds of pages of classified material, particularly relating to China, Russia, and Ukraine, to members of a Discord group. For this leak, the authorities arrested 21-year old Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, about whom the coverage has been a curious mashup of mentions of his patriotism, Catholicism, and interest in guns with some discussion about these online communities. The Washington Post piece also notes that he was “skeptical” about the future of the United States, which is an odd juxtaposition with his “patriotism.”
- A Montana GOP lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a “jungle primary” for the states 2024 Senate election, where candidates from all parties are on one primary ballot and only the top two advance. The bill is specifically designed to target Jon Tester who has in the past benefited from third party candidates on the ballot, and would sunset immediately after the race.
- The Southern coast of the US is seeing “unprecedented” sea level rise, at about twice the global rate, in turn raising the potential threat from hurricanes.
- The Washington Post has an analysis on how we reached the point where the light truck (including SUVs) became the most common type of vehicle in every state.
- Fighting has broken out in Sudan between the military and the paramilitary RSF. Sudan has been ruled by a Sovereign Council since a coup in 2021, with the army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan being the president and the RSF’s commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti) the vice-president. This fighting is about political power in Sudan, but observers have also suggested that one of the issues at stake is that the winner will be able to lay the blame for the country’s recent history, including the genocide in Darfur, at the other’s feet.
- My shrine to the Ancient One is about my love of history (McSweeney’s).
Album of the Week: Counting Crows, August and Everything After (2007)
Currently Reading: Julie Schumacher, The Shakespeare Requirement, Caroline Winterer, The Mirror of Antiquity