Revolt (sic) a la YouTube, Toast Masters, and Really-Really Smart, Educated Ivy League Grads (Not)

Just what are we teaching young people, society at large,  in and out of school? Just what is it to be an American today, awash in consumer madness? The Last One with the Most Toys Wins bumper sticker,  or is it this little chant:  You’ll have to peel this i-thing Apple appendage from my cold dead mind, err, hand?

Forget 24-hour news cycles. We have daily dumping of history, facts, human narratives, and ecological realities. Sort of the Googlization of Everything. Aggregate it, baby. Screen it all out to the common marketable thing. Information is about selling, and too many unkempt narratives, away from that big slipstream in the middle of marketing sweet spots – the droll death of a  Pokémon-lust —  well, those are goners. Writing, well, that’s a goner too. Think about Google and the gushers of aggregating money balloons going to those Zionists, Techies, Teutonic Titans.

Think hard about what Harper’s Magazine publisher has to say about that Google clicking sickness like meningitis running rampant through Princeton:

As it happens, recent technology has brutally pressed my question about the appropriate connection between reader, writer, and advertiser on every publisher in our increasingly wired-up world. I was immediately suspicious of the Internet being touted, in the late 1990s, as a miraculously efficient publishing platform because of the Web’s capacity for massive copyright violation. But what disturbed me more as a publisher and a writer was the ugly commodification of writing itself — the renaming of prose and poetry as something called “content.” Suddenly, my colleagues and competitors were reducing well-wrought sentences and stories to the level of screws and bolts. Not only was “content” an empty and offensive word, but my fellow publishers also proposed to give it away free in the quest for more advertising. Instead of honoring the reader, writer, and editor, this new approach to the publishing business insulted them, both by devaluing their work and by feeding it — with little or no remuneration — to search engines, which in turn feed information to advertising agencies (and, as it turns out, the government).

The result, as anyone with even a passing interest can observe, has been catastrophic: massive layoffs of editorial employees; the collapse of major publications; the impoverishment of writers; the alarming decline of editorial standards for accuracy, grammar, and coherent thought; and the dumbing down of journalism across the board. Great American publishing institutions such as the Washington Post and the Boston Globe have been placed on the auction block for a fraction of their former value. Meanwhile, the advertisers themselves have fled traditional publications for the allegedly greener pastures of social media and Google. Paradoxically, the more advertisers demanded eyeballs and clicks, the more writing the publishers gave away, and the less advertisers advertised. We know what happens to lemmings — thanks to YouTube you can watch it in graphic detail any time of the day or night — so I decided early on I wouldn’t join in the frenzy of free content. From the launching of our website in 2003, we at Harper’s insisted that subscribers continue to pay to read our well-written, fact-checked, scrupulously edited, and extremely entertaining paragraphs. When the magazine became fully accessible online, our paywall remained firm. We are pleased to be able to offer the magazine in a digital format, but what we won’t do is give in to the free-content “logic” of so many publications. Tellingly, very few subscribers have complained, and we are still in business, having conceded nothing in the quality of our character or, dare I say, our content.

About to be scrubbed from existence … if you are a student, consumer party backer, someone just looking for a crumb of the pie, anything, just to keep that job going and the junk and junkets and vacations and dreams of owning Belgian horses on some property somewhere or some varietal wine grape spread, 20 acres will do. Anything, baby, to make what Hollywood and Hucksterism and  Hegemony will dictate as the great patriotic thing to do. {Note that the lemming urban legend is what we call, agnotology! It never happened — made up history, fact, or scrubbed, erased, as you can see happening in Egypt around the massacre of soccer fans in a mosque — read Zirin. }

Can anyone believe the true philosophical underpinning of what Harper’s Magazine publisher says about the parasite Google?

Why doesn’t Harper’s give away a particularly good investigative piece (such as Ted Conover’s powerful undercover report in May on an industrial slaughterhouse) so that more people will read it?

Because good publishing, good editing, and good writing cost money, and publishers, editors, and writers have to earn a living. We are proud that we can send a photographer to Iran for a couple of weeks and then deliver the resulting images to readers in our September issue through the mail on good paper and over the Internet in high resolution for computer screens and tablets. This photographer, who requested anonymity, risked arrest and prison to take excellent pictures — as do other photographers such as Samuel James — for the benefit of Harper’s and you. The censors in Tehran are surely upset. Shouldn’t Anonymous be paid for this courage and skill? Shouldn’t Harper’s be compensated for sending Anonymous into the field? All told, the photo essay cost us about $25,000, including printing, paper, and mailing. It is unreasonable to expect that an advertiser would directly sponsor such daring photography. It is wishful thinking to believe that parasitic Google, now bloated with billions of dollars’ worth of what I consider pirated property, will ever willingly pay Harper’s, or Anonymous, anything at all for the right to distribute Anonymous’s pictures (although it’s worth noting that the German government is fighting Google on behalf of German publishers and writers over this very point). We cannot even count on America’s enlightened public libraries to help foot the bill for Anonymous. I recently found myself in the Lenox, Massachusetts, public library, where Harper’s Magazine is currently unavailable. When our circulation director complained that the magazine that published Edith Wharton’s short stories, many written just down the road at the Mount, deserved pride of place in the library’s periodicals section, she was told that budget cuts had made it impossible for the library to pay for a subscription.

Today’s HR-IT-Admin Class collusion is about getting rid of pay for people, the rank and file, the writers, the workers, the teachers, the para-educators. It’s about padding their butt pads for their golden parachute years. They are busy-bodies, and rotten to the core, because they slip a check once and a while to Planed Parenthood or the Humane Society. Hell, they even help with scholarship funds and Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, yet … YET they proceed with this uber sickness of “anything new, anything coded, anything digital and hyper efficient must do.”  They sit in office and attend meetings and get that smile after software hucksters drop more and more time-consuming crap onto the colleges and corporations laps.

This Google-Gigabyte generation is not about principles, not about who is the smartest, most empathetic, most steeped in ethical IQs and social IQs and emotional IQs out the window. This is about a job, paying above that 70 percent mark, to gain status in the 20 percent ranks. It’s about that smirk, that  “now let’s giggle at how dead end these Luddites and humanities types are, how little they get paid … cutting hair would get these smart-ass PhDs more. It’s a Spencerian Darwinism, a Zionist and Power to the Powerful narrative, that Timothy Geithner smile, from cheek to cheek,. Look at these pigs in faux journalism, financial news (sic) –

He was one of the least wealthy Treasury chiefs in recent history — and he suffered at least a 50% pay cut when taking that job.

But with a new appointment at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, plus income from a book deal and paid speeches, Geithner is poised to make many times his salary in the public sector, where he worked for 25 years.

Geithner was a pauper next to his predecessor Hank Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs Goldman CEO who was possibly worth upwards of $500 million. Although Paulson was one of the richest Treasury secretaries, many who take the job do so after a lucrative career on Wall Street.

Not Geithner. He started at the Treasury Department in 1988 after a short time at the consulting firm Kissinger Associates. Geithner specialized in international economics and rose through the Treasury ranks, then took a leadership role at the International Monetary Fund. In 2003, he was picked to head the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Geithner earned $411,200, plus benefits and an even larger severance payout, in his final year at the Fed, according to financial disclosures.

As Treasury secretary, he earned a salary of $199,700. His net worth has been estimated at between $239,000 and $6 million.

So this Obama appendage received $400,000 last year for three speeches, on with that new parasitic organization, Warburg, Pincus.

The smile is big, TIM. So much bigger than, say, coming from some adjunct Full-time history teacher, English teacher, any teacher USA (save for the superstars – hell, there are superstars in every field, but compared to the rank and file, for teachers, well, there are plenty of tenure-living, adjunct faculty scoffing folks who are part of THE system). You know, my work is as valuable as anything to this crumbling, goofball society – critical thinking, writing, research, looking beyond the slick web site, brochure, snippet journalism, snippet thinking that is the new New Epoch.

You think I am kidding when I say I know folk who are web workers – effing around with a company department web site, bells and whistles, working on maintenance, for say, General Dynamics, guys who play around with a lot of code and IntraNet shit, who make, with no college education, on the order of $70,000 a year. Really. That is the military industrial project. Working for Boeing, GE, Raytheon, et al. Something about CORPORATE welfare, yet these guys scoff at the dude or dudette with the facial piercings on the corner with the raddest sign asking for a donation to the “funding the end of the world as we know it” or some snappy thing. These guys and gals scoff and denigrate not just the panhandler. They see pukes like me as panhandlers. Grow up and get a real job. Really, 2103, and educated pukes say these things about Adjuncts:

New York Times and Keith Hoeller – read the reactions!

Mr. Hoeller makes several fair points that are largely undisputed by tenured faculty: that non-tenure-track faculty teach for crummy wages, enjoy neither the job security nor health benefits of tenured faculty and are often of as high quality as those who have secured tenure-track employment.

The prevailing view of those outside academia seems to be that tenured research faculty are pampered, underworked and lazy with respect to their teaching duties. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In public universities, passing a tenure review requires assiduous attention to the caliber of teaching. Most crucially, Mr. Hoeller does not acknowledge the intense mentoring workload that tenured research faculty carry and “contingent faculty” do not.

Directing theses and dissertations, writing hundreds of letters of recommendation for students each year, reading thousands of pages of dissertation or thesis chapters, committee work for curriculum and university oversight — are all duties of the tenured research academic, who must also continue to publish in order to see even the most negligible of salary increases.

We all want to see “contingent faculty” be less exploited. But it doesn’t help to make a false argument that their work is better than their “luckier” colleagues.

LINDA CHARNES, Bloomington, Ind., Nov. 13, 2013. The writer is a professor of English at Indiana University.

The Writer Responds

I certainly can agree with Mr. Figlio, co-author of the recent Northwestern study, that “all faculty members deserve our respect — and the opportunity to advance in their careers.” But this is precisely what the two-track system in academe fails to provide to three out of every four college professors who teach off the tenure track.

Mr. Figlio explains his research findings — that off-track faculty are more effective teachers than tenure-track faculty — by suggesting that Northwestern’s contingent faculty are treated better than those elsewhere. But the Cross and Goldenberg 10-campus study had similar findings, so Northwestern cannot be that unique. And contrary to Mr. Sovern’s point, their study concluded that student evaluations were the best available measure of teaching effectiveness.

The non-teaching duties of tenure-track faculty can in no way justify the vastly inferior pay and lack of job security for contingent faculty. Ms. Charnes and Mr. Brunson don’t mention that adjuncts also engage in non-teaching duties, for which they are neither paid nor rewarded.

Mr. Perona cites what has been called “professors of practice,” who are rare and generally not treated equally.

It is not surprising to see the two-track system defended by those who profit from it the most. But as the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, even a “separate but equal” system is inherently unequal. It cannot be reformed; it must be abolished.

KEITH HOELLER Seattle, Nov. 15, 2013

You can find the dialogue online at:  New York Times. 

You think because you live in a suburb, have season tickets to the college of your choice, maybe even a professional team or two; you think because you have “friends of color,” and you  think because you have 2.3 kids, 2.9 dogs, and a Sunday regular pew-sit at Our Lady of Consumption, well, you think because you tear up when Obama speaks or when the Star Splayed Spangled Banner is sung, well all of that Target and Trader’s Joes and little petition-signing life in front of Safeway, you think just because you dial in codes for the company payroll, or you design little newsletters, or just shuffling paper, that, you, all Christian-Judeo, you think YOU DON’T WORK FOR THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX?????

You are the criminal, continuing in your small inane way, maybe, but still one of the cogs in the Criminal Enterprise of sequesters, privatizing and putrefying education, gutting health, safety, retirement, postal, everything that is for society, not FOR corporations’ gains. Really.

Right! This is how it shakes out in America – corporations infecting every branch of every community tree that the common folk – most of them – live, breathe, thrive in this bullshit lie. That lie is Democrat and Republican. A big lie, really. Blight, and we see it. We see it daily, second-by-second. Hell, the Warsaw Coal is King Climate talks (sic), well, they just oust a 23-year-old for showing solidarity, peaceful, and for unfurling a respectful banner.

We are the age of thugs, UN, US, UK, NZ, AU, you name the rotten white Judeo-Christian muck fest. Thugs run by bigger thugs in the corporate thuggery world.

CLÉMENCE HUTIN: For me, climate is the biggest issue, the biggest challenge that humanity has ever faced. And we are at a tipping point, the crossroads. The time is now. We cannot delay this any further. People have been negotiating my whole life, and I feel like they need to stop speaking, stop talking, stop negotiating, and just act. We need to reduce emissions now. We need to leave fossil fuels in the ground now. And I’m feeling quite frustrated at the moment because that’s not the message that we’ve been getting this year.

I’m 23 years old. When we were in the plenary on Monday, we were listening to Yeb Saño’s speech. We gave him a standing ovation, because it was very heartbreaking. The whole room was very moved. Many negotiators were crying. So, we just felt the need to express basic solidarity at this time. So we clapped, and we escorted him to the exit. We actually warned the chief of security that we were going to do this. And when we met him at the entrance, it was very emotional. He hugged us. He greeted us. He thanked us for the solidarity. And we decided to get our banners out that we were preparing for the action, a sanctioned action, taking place the next day. And the banner was reading: “2012, 1,000 dead; 2013, 10,000-plus dead? How many more?” Just that, and the names of the places that had been hit by the typhoon. And the security just ripped the banners from our hands. They escorted us to the exit immediately, and we were de-badged within 10 minutes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, are you allowed back into the summit?

CLÉMENCE HUTIN: No. We’ve heard—the next day, the chief of security had told us that we could come back in; however, we were notified that Christiana Figueres had made the personal decision to ban us from the U.N. climate talks. We heard that we had been banned for five years. We heard about a lifetime ban, as well. Yesterday, thankfully, she sent us a letter to tell us that we could come in, back in, next year. But we are still banned this week for having expressed solidarity.

This is a society of fearful felons, the ones working the tools and ticker tapes of the Military-Energy-Financial-Retail-Chemical-Big Pharma-Med!

What did I just read? That the big Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council is just all huffy about anyone daring to question Intel’s release of fluoride in Hillsboro. It’s about, well, jobs, and negatively affecting architects, engineers, safety personnel and material suppliers, if anyone dares ask about the efficacy of fluoride in our water systems. Naw, whatever the Intel Campus (they have the hubris to call it that, but, hey, so does McDonald’s – they have their campus, too, and so does Walmart, all of them. Monsanto has campuses worldwide at state universities. The crème de le crème.

That’s the capstone, really, to the union movement, in many ways – jobs, jobs, jobs over health-health-health. They will always win, now won’t they. They fight for jobs with Boeing in Seattle, that CEO who makes how much on his pension, compared to what a rank and file worker is to make? The Boeing military complex just got how many orders for how much for their new earth-eating jet? The company sold 260  777 aircraft. Boeing says it’s the largest combined order for a new aircraft in the company’s history — agreements worth $95 billion. Or more!

 The trend has been noticed at the bargaining table. Ray Goforth leads the engineers union. “The Boeing company wants to be able to do what it wants to do without question or explanation,” he said. “Being a part of the Puget Sound, being part of Washington state is not important to the corporation.”

Boeing does not talk about hiring plans. It declined KUOW’s requests for an interview.

However the company is taking action. In summer 2009, Boeing acquired a supplier in South Carolina. This happened while people in Washington were still anticipating completion of the 787 Dreamliner and troubleshooting its many issues. The Dreamliner is Boeing’s bid to win the market through fuel efficiency and a radically new design.

That autumn, Boeing bypassed Washington and chose South Carolina for its second 787 production line. Now 6,500 Boeing jobs are there, and not here.

They’re buying hundreds of acres of land down there and it’s not to preserve the trees or wetlands.

Boeing also has an option to purchase up to 1,100 acres to add to their South Carolina plant. If the land purchases go ahead, the company will own slightly more land there than Boeing owns in Everett.

Aerospace consultant Scott Hamilton of Leeham Co. said the company is clearly expanding. “They’re buying hundreds of acres of land down there and it’s not to preserve the trees or the wetlands,” he said. “Those are going to be converted to factory.”

South Carolina, like most of the southern states, has two major advantages over Washington. It has fewer union constraints, thus fewer potential strikes, and more tax breaks for businesses. South Carolina uses many kinds of tax breaks to entice companies to set up in the state. Washington state’s constitution puts limits on the kinds of incentives it can offer.

Boeing is not the only aerospace company setting up in the South. Airbus SAS of France has set up in Alabama. Embraer SA, the Brazilian plane maker, set up in Florida after deciding against Washington state.

Oh, I also heard this one recently, on National Puerile Radio: “Hell, if the company has to cut its wages and benefits 50 percent, it’s still much better to make half of something, over half of nothing.”

Well isn’t that quaint, USA worker, quoted on National Pediatric Radio!

Get that Asbergers syndrome – AS, AD for disorder, ASD for spectrum disorder, baby – monolith Jeff Bezos to hire on more austismy folk with IT degrees and engineering proclivities, more hard-line ex-military, and, here we are – the United States Postal Service working in cahoots with Bezos to deliver packages. That’s the new buzz around Amazon dot kill you, kill competition, kill real choice COM. Oh, yeah, some asinine movie Amazon has with John Goodman as star. What tripe.

Amazon is offering the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service a lifeline, the Washington Post reported. On Monday, the online retailer announced plans to use the postal service to deliver packages to U.S. customers seven days a week.

This is the point in America where everything is in this continuous fire-sale, to the lowest persons on earth – millionaires, politicians, and, well, the average Joe Blow and Jane Butterworth. Can you imagine,  this innocuous statement above applying to ALL public goods, public commons, public safety nets. It does, and they are predators of the lowest kind, those Boeing execs, the Bill Gates, the former feds, the former lobbyists who were once former workers for politicians and who were once politicians. That revolving door is like a carousel.

And, well, that is not predatory, violent, an assault on individuals? This vulture-venture-shock-to-the-system Inside Trading-Inside-Back-of-the-Pockets-of-Politicians advance on all human life, all communities, well, that is not VIOLENCE?

Stay with me a bit, and let me parlay this into a linkage to Jeremy Hammond being sent to the Big House for 10 years, for, well, using codes, computers and some algorithmic jujitsu to look at the collusion between big secrecy and big government and big spooks. Now how many Americans do not want to know what’s cooking, what’s up, with their governments and corporations’ Machiavellian systematic carpet bombing of the US population’s.

To resist the powers that be, the status quo, the corporate ringmasters is to throw gasoline on their bonfire.  To resist, protest, demure, denigrate, challenge, debate, argue against, rail against, serve papers on, take them to court, whistle-blow, or out is not an act of civil heroism, not an act of revolutionary zeal that should have been the understudy of this country’s “revolution,” err, Indian Removal Slavery Enhanced Gunboat Diplomacy Project of the heart of darkness.

To write this blog, I fear, is an act of assault and battery. The reason for quiet firings, backdoor derailments of careers, entire lives, and, of course, the more overt, the more Aaron Swartz-like, well, it’s adios, amigo. Even in self-induced retreat through suicide.

Throw gasoline on an SUV, or pick-up truck at the local Toyota or Chevy dealership, well, you get federal time for that crime. Years. Eco-terrorism. If you kill people with Pharma charm, with oil rigger nastiness, with toxin after toxin, you know, the Love Canal thing – the price of doing business is, well, profit, cover-ups, hiring thugs, character assassination, and the big lie and, well, owning the media, owning the university. So all of those crimes by fat faced men and women, who get that air time, get in the news, well, darn, they might get a tenured professorship and book contract for that Inside Job.

You bettcha.

So, while I appreciate Chris Hedges, for sure, and have taught him and Henry Giroux and a container ship’s worth of others in the Chomsky sort of line up, I can’t understand the caveats here, how, poor Jeremy Hammond must have lost his way, advocating fighting back, not getting arrested, not letting the enemy know the plan.

It’s the stuff that the CELDF teaches, the rights of nature, the community bill of rights sort of thing – you can do that big community or neighborhood fight against the box store or pig slaughtering plant, you know, get all the regulatory stuff going, hire your rotten lawyers, get the extra time spent late into the night as citizens to do your traffic studies, all the impact studies, and to try and cajole the corporate media and bubble brain locals to cover something about the fight to keep Walmart out of the neighborhood, or the Nestle bottling company, or the fracking outfit, or, well, fill in your blank________. All that work, and, well, you have gotten done the work of Walmart. They will come back with a few bike lanes, some shrubs, maybe even a few less parking spaces, little tweaks here and there, and, darn, if the city is hobbled by the county who gives tax abatements, tax giveaways, and, darn, Walmart puts in a few green bio-swales, and, there you have it – the regulations have been followed, and you have that new ammonia processing plant next to ya.

Here, from Hedges, the comments by Hedges and Hammond. Guess which is which:

“I did not hope for justice from the court.”

“People have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.”

“This draconian sentence, like the draconian sentences of other whistle-blowers, will fan revolt.”

“It will solidify the growing understanding that we must resort, if we want to effect real change, to unconventional tactics to thwart the mounting abuses by the corporate state.”

(BLANK) has abandoned faith not only in traditional institutions, such as the courts, but nonviolent mass protest and civil disobedience, a point on which he and I diverge.

His revolutionary vision is “leaderless collectives based on free association, consensus, mutual aid, self-sufficiency and harmony with the environment.”

“He embraces the classic tools of revolt, including mass protests, general strikes and boycotts. And he sees hacking and leaking as part of this resistance, tools not only to reveal the truths about these systems of corporate power but to ‘disrupt/destroy these systems entirely.’”

“The point,” he said, “is to carry out acts of resistance and not get caught.”

“I do not believe that the ruling powers listen to the people’s peaceful protests. Black Bloc is an effective, fluid and dynamic form of protest.

“It causes disruption outside of predictable/controllable mass demonstrations through ‘unarrests,’ holding streets, barricades and property destruction. “

“Smashing corporate windows is not violence, especially when compared to the everyday economic violence of sweatshops and ‘free trade.’”

“Black Bloc seeks to hit them where it hurts, through economic damage. But more than smashing windows they seek to break the spell of ‘law and order’ and the artificial limitations we impose on ourselves.”

“Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means?” he said. “I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of its own citizens or the international community.”

“The hypocrisy of ‘law and order’ and the injustices caused by capitalism cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and direct action,” (BLANK) told the court. “Yes, I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change.”

Well, it’s easy to see the similarities of Hedges’ call for action and Hammond’s, and then the divergence. This odd feeling that you effect change on Facebook, in a peaceful protest (it is NEVER peaceful because the law changes the playing field, is the violent actor in American protest).

So, some of us have to gut it out and go against the corporate mindset 24/7 in almost every single avocation and career track and job. It’s a disease that is probably DNA entwined, like Chromosome 21 damage is to the Down Syndrome fellow.

Here, take a look at what they learn, what we teach. This Slate writer is young, yet, her story on the adjunct that died doing her job, mistreated and miss-paid, well, I want you all to read the response first, and then go to the URL with the story.

 Adjuncts Can’t Even Rest in Peace

When I woke up this morning, I found that a friend of the blog tweeted me a link to a new article discussing recently deceased Duquesne adjunct instructor Margaret Mary Vojtko.  When I saw it was from Slate, I was excited to read it, for a good friend of mine had been interviewed for this article.  The person who sent the link did so with no initial commentary, so as soon as I had a chance, I read.  Actually, I was a little bit behind my travel schedule because I read the whole thing.  I wish I had waited until after work to read it, for I’ve been raging about this read the entire day.

L. V. Anderson’s “Death of a Professor” is a sad, sorry excuse to drag down a rally point for adjuncts nationwide. Blunt enough? Let me continue.  This is not simply a rant by someone too close to the issue.  I know what a rant is, by the way, I taught about them in one class this morning and was only prevented from making one about this very subject by the fact that I was getting observed. While the last paragraphs lament the plight of adjuncts and their treatment by universities even calling for change, I cannot forgive all that comes before those lines. First of all, Anderson misspells Mary Margaret’s last name several times: it’s Vojtko, not Vojkto. Basic reporting: get the names correct.  Especially if one is attempting to tear down the martyr of the contingent working poor who also write.

The article begins with a recap of the main points regarding her death and the subsequent publication of Daniel Kovalik’s article that brought intense scrutiny to not only this case, but the wider treatment of adjunct faculty nationwide, perhaps worldwide.  Kovalik’s position as senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers is mentioned, as it almost always is. I should have known which direction this was going from that moment on, but I kept reading.

Next, the viral history of Kovalik’s article, the Twitter hashtag it inspired (#IAmMaryMargaret), and several related blogs and articles that took up the cause are mentioned.  The article even tips its hat to the unfairness of the conditions under which she lived and died: the conditions of the working poor in America. Oh, but then Anderson writes “But was that true?’ This seems to imply that we have all been–gasp–lied to about Mary Margaret VOJTKO. Still I read.  What were these new truths?

It seems that the TRUTH about Margaret Mary Vojtko is that she grew up in the Pittsburgh area in a staunchly union family. She considered becoming a nun but after taking a job at her father’s suggestion so that she could make a more informed decision, she did not join a convent.  Cousin Gerald Chinchar is quoted as saying she “had too much of an independent streak.” Now, here’s where my alarm bells started to ring, not because of her cousin’s words, but the way in which they were likely to be used. An independent woman?! In the 1940s?! This is followed by her romantic history that includes at least two men who she fell for but never married. Then we learn that after her father’s death she pursued more degrees: French, Latin, medieval studies and even an RN were all areas of expertise. Ah, I see it now: independent, educated, unmarried woman who also decided against taking religious vows that could have provided for her. Well, well.

Finally, Vojtko arrives at Duquesne, fluent in five languages and able to play violin, among other things. She teaches “French for Research” and language classes for undergrads. Though Anderson admits Vojtko took her teaching seriously and that some students doted on her, keeping in touch after leaving her courses, it must be pointed out that she does not use the computer well and eschews technological course instructional programs. How dare she reject corporate course management systems universities have plunked down big bucks for?! What kind of Luddite are we dealing with here? How in the world did any of us ever get by without them? (I must admit I only learned to use BlackBoard this year because my new school relies on it. Many of my students express frustration levels with it as well, and they’re not a quarter her age.) The digs keep piling up.

Then we learn that Margaret Mary Vojtko even had a passion for history, particularly union history relating to her background and volunteered with the Homestead Historical Society. Yet this, too, is not left unproblematized: we are told she was a hoarder and obsessive over artifacts.  Yes, her house and the one next door that her deceased brother purchased are full of items. Has this author met any academics? I don’t know any without some oddities, myself included. Personally, I find hoarding to be one of those things I can easily forgive, unless it involves animals.  I come from a family who couldn’t throw out something unless it was absolutely broken or completely wrecked without a struggle or at least a long conversation.  We’re from the country. We have sheds and barns full of stuff because…  Well, because someone might need it and then we wouldn’t have to buy it, just dig it out. We weren’t raised to be throwaway people, as I’m sure the Vojtko children weren’t. Can this be taken too far? Yes. Is it a mental condition? I think so, but it doesn’t make her less human or less deserving of her place in this story of the adjunct uprising.  However, Anderson still isn’t finished airing  83 years of dirty laundry.

Apparently, another great secret that we have all been snowed about is that Margaret Mary Vojtko never ever finished her dissertation! What?! Maybe she had more sense than some of us, would be my initial response to that. Is this lack of a terminal degree supposed to make her LESS in my eyes, or make her unfit to serve as a rallying cry for the cause of contingent faculty? Maybe to people who think that a PhD makes them better than everyone else. I have one and I’m still an adjunct. Lots of people are. Lots of people have MAs or MFAs. So what? The adjunct life is rarely any kinder to the doctoral degree holder than those without. In fact, at a beginning of the year meeting at one of my schools, a colleague joked with me that he never had managed to get his PhD, so he couldn’t really expect more than bouncing between schools. I told him the degree was no guarantee anyway, since I had one. He was surprised. Do I feel less inclined to care about Margaret Mary’s life and death because of any of this? No, because none of it matters one damn bit in the end.

At the end of her life, as family members died and others disappointed her, she because more reclusive. Then Anderson claims that the Duquesne community did not abandon her. What they did do was offer her charity. Charity in a country that despises the poor. Charity to a woman from a strong union background who had worked all her adult life, who was intelligent, and independent. I know these women. I come from a family like that. Having to sign my children up for state medical insurance is humiliating to me. I’m not a freeloader. Mary Margaret Vojtko was NOT a freeloader. If this article’s purpose was to tear a woman down from a pedestal, it has not fulfilled its purpose. For me it has placed her further ahead of us. Mary Margaret is up there in the distance beckoning. She waves a union sign. She carries a beloved book. She demands that we keep fighting for the living wage that ALL workers deserve, inside higher education and out. The truth of her life is no less than, no greater than, no more valuable than any of our own. Anyone who thinks that casting aspersions on the character of a deceased woman expiates even some of the guilt of the contemporary corporate university does not truly understand what we are fighting against because they are only standing in our way providing excuses for those in positions of power. This is what we are up against.

For those whose lives challenge the status quo there is no resting in peace.

Read the piece here: This is what we are teaching? Journalism? Thinking? Shifting baseline disease?

Oh, who owns and Slate magazine? Is it Amazon Bezos, now that he bought the Washington Post?

Slate magazine was started in 1996 by the former editor of New Republic, Michael Kinsley. In 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post and today is run by an online group called Slate Group a subsidiary of the Washington Post.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

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  1. Paul Haeder said on November 20th, 2013 at 7:41am #

    Well, a certain “Tom” has reposted one of my posts, at a Blog called, quote:

    NW Adjuncts Unite posts as an info clearinghouse that articulate the distilled problems of contingent faculty…and the collective solutions that our colleagues are using to fight this exploitative marginalization.

    A big thanks!

    My comments posted there —

    Hey, thanks for posting. Let’s rock the house, rattle the cage and humiliate the ADMIN class.

    I think it’s great that you frame what I write as a rant, as a ramble, but with bite, too. Look, I have been teaching writing, journalism, business/tech writing, poetry, the novel and literature, as well as remedial courses, for decades. I also write for small-town and mainstream news organs. I know the kettling of society, the snippet journalism that is all the rage, and the limp false balancing and contrived objectivity-neutrality-good-all-American-tone. I see that tone filtering every single day in the various part-time jobs I work at. I saw it as a disease with SEIU. With many in Seattle, and with the many that I worked with at Green River Community College. I’ve seen Deanlets scurrying like cockroaches at the thought of really revolutionary, good, and provocative and controversial faculty or ideas. That’s how they pad their stinking beds with investment, $90K a year salaries and junkets to the data collecting world of changing education daily because THEY CAN.

    The point of the blog, Dissident Voice, is to have revolutionary voices come on board and provoke. The “ramble” that you are couching my piece around as a critique, well, ramble in my mind is sorely needed in this effete world of ameliorating, incremental change (not) professing and adjunct faculty( as the majority) sitting like deer caught in the 18-wheeler’s headlights when Deanlets, Department Heads, IT and other ADMIN class hit them with really bad change and ideas.

    Oh, I am also teaching, at a community college. I am an adjunct — one of only seven — on the college’s strategic planning initiative. That’s over 250 FTTT, staff and ADMIN on one end, and 7 adjunct faculty on the other, for a campus that, alas, has 65 percent NT/adjunct. Great input, uh? Our goal is to work on learning environment delineation and vision and the school’s student outcomes and strategies going forth into 2020. I guarantee, the emphasis is on DL — distance learning — AND on more on-line courses, and, well, you can imagine what all of that does to solidarity, relationship building, human engagement, and growing the academic sphere of multidisciplinary and community building for both the adjunct — majority — and the student. Right — it destroys all of that, and even more human agency and collective will.

    It’s the third rail of higher education, MOOC and on-line lust, and if anyone has facts, background, data or intuitive reasoning around how on-line teaching IS not the way to go, as a way to replace, largely F2F courses, well, we are vilified, lambasted and put down as proto-Luddites. That includes largely the adjuncts, who want less and less connection to driving to campus and spending time in those commutes and going to a class that they have to meet F2F. So much for the neighborhood. We already live in silos, with learning communities rare as a fair insurance plan done on Obama-Uncare. The idea is to have MORE faculty, staff and students in all disciplines come together. It is really a schizophrenia, because the hundreds of business leaders, business owners, non-profit heads, and government middlings I talk with all want employees who are critical thinkers, systems thinkers, deep in their understanding of all aspects of the world, and ones that have huge experience dealing with multiple thinkers, stakeholders, people from all classes and walks of life, in the round, face to face. I am not kidding about that, but at these On-Ward-On-Line Storm trooper meetings, it’s as if we are on another planet advocating for relationship building and hard and challenging worlds of engagement in a room, in a field, in a lab, in an auditorium, in a full-equipped classroom.

    So, “rant” is in, data-analysis paralysis is OUT. “Ramble” is one person’s plea and creative pot of ideas, another person’s disjointedness. The blog, School Yard Fights, gets reposts and garners respect from people from around the world, daily, thanking me for these “rambles. ”

    Just check it out —
    I am an English Teacher:

    Newest one —