Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Should I be worried?

So, I thought I'd email the sociology dept at UT to make sure they had everything, and, sure enough, five minutes later, I get an email back saying that "Yes, we have received everything, and your file is under review." That's great, I think to myself. Everything is set. I can relax.

Then I thought, "I should've asked him about when I might expect to hear back." Surely there's a way I can check the status of my application without being annoying? Sure enough, after a quick search through my email (I love Gmail), I found that I had a UT EID with which I could go online and check the status. I get on and it says that everything is there, but that they need another UTD transcript through Spring 2005. I sent them two. That's how many they wanted.

Right now I'm about to go mail them another. But, if the dude said everything was in and that my app is under review, is everything okay? Or should I be concerned? Is it worth emailing this guy back and saying, "well, the status check thingy says I need this..."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Word Cloud

This is kind of cool. You can make a "word cloud" that reflects the most commonly used words on your blog, with words used more often larger, etc etc. It's kind of cool.

I just had two very scary moments.

First, I wanted to check the status of my UCSB application (incidentally, no change, review is still "in progress"), so I went to the department website, where I happened to see an application to be a TA. Which I had never seen before and had never filled out. The website said that many students were supported by TAships, and I had been counting on that, but I had entirely neglected to fill out this application. Clearly, it was the end of the world. I clicked on the link, prepared to print and send it with deepest apologies, abject begging, and overnight mail, where, to my relief, I saw that the application was only for people outside of the department applying to TA sociology courses.

Then, I had just gotten an email from the grad secretary at Indiana (there had been a mix-up on my part with several of my supporting documents) confirming that all of my materials were in, and I thought I would check to see if their online application had a place for status updates (can't hurt to check). I searched through my email to find the link, but a search for "indiana application" turned up nothing. I became paranoid that I had not actually submitted an application for Indiana, just my supplementary materials, that in all the filling out of online forms and paying exorbitent application fees, I had actually completley forgotten to do Indiana's. Rationality took over; I reasoned with myself that it was impossible that I had not actually applied. Didn't the secretary just say that my file was complete and given to the committee?

Turns out, Indiana was one of the first schools I had decided to apply to, and this was before I had my gmail acccount. I had done it through my old yahoo account.

All was well with the world.

I still hate waiting, though.

Academic freedom

If you get a chance, you should check out Michael Berube's post on academic freedom. I don't have time to go too in-depth about it right now, but he talks about the idea of "bias" in the classroom. He says, for example, that the whole language of "bias," brought in by movement conservatives who criticize the media for being "liberal" is really a misnomer.

But the language of “bias” is not very well suited to the work of, say, a researcher who has spent decades investigating American drug policy or conflicts in the Middle East and who has come to conclusions that amount to more or less “liberal” critiques of current policies. Such conclusions are not “bias”; rather, they are legitimate, well-founded beliefs, and of course they should be presented—ideally, along with legitimate competing beliefs—in college classrooms.

He argues that the whole idea that there are "two sides" to every issue (I have a problem with this... sometimes "sides" are really non-scientific ideological positions, and quite often there are more than two sides) has really infiltrated our culture.

The course, which dealt with bioethics, had recently dealt with the vile history of experiments on unwitting and/or unwilling human subjects, from the Holocaust to Tuskegee, and the student wanted to know whether the “other side” would be presented as well. I hope you’re asking yourselves, what other side?—because, of course, to all reasonable and responsible researchers in the field, there is no “other side”; there is no pro-human experimentation position that needs to be introduced into classroom discussion to counteract possible liberal “bias.” We are not in the business of inviting pro-Nazi spokesmen for Joseph Mengele to our classrooms. But this is the language with which some of our students enter the classroom; it is the language of cable news and mass-media simulacra of “debate.” There is one side, and then there is the other side. That constitutes balance, and anything else is bias.

He then talks about studies showing many more liberals in academia than conservatives. He allows that this is totally true:

Many people, it seems, aren’t surprised or outraged by this at all; they expect college faculties to be full of liberals the way they expect country clubs or corporate boardrooms to be full of conservatives; it’s just the way the world is divvied up. They get the money and the power and the finely manicured golf courses, and we get the survey classes on the American novel. Personally, I don’t see why conservatives would be complaining about this arrangement. To put this another way, the day American liberalism is identified primarily with Hollywood stars and college professors is not a good day for the cause of social justice. Surely, movement conservatives know this every bit as well as I do.

The problem is that the stats that are used to support this (by people like Horowitz) tend to exaggerate and cherry pick their statistics. After all, "the data are tastier when the data are cooked." To take a "sample" of college professors, but take none from the engineering, medical, business, or law schools, or from any of the hard sciences, and find that there are substantially more liberals than conservatives is hardly surprising. Of course people in women's studies, anthropology, political science, and sociology are more liberal. But those are hardly reflections of an entire faculty.

Anyway, sorry for the quote-fest, but I thought it was a good post and I'm too lazy/busy to do anything substantive on my own about the topic.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

In at Wisconsin

But not nominated for a University Fellowship.

Which means chances for funding=bad.

Wasn't my top choice anyway.

Still feels like a rejection.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sorry! and rant

Obviously I haven't updated in a while. California was great. The reason I'm posting now, however, is not due to guilt felt over ignoring you for so long. I'm kind of pissed off.

Okay, so Osama bin Laden released a tape the other day, no? This is uncomfortable news for Bush supporters particularly because it highlights the fact that we're, um, more than four years out from September 11, and this guy is still out there, alive, and threatening the U.S.

So, what does the mainstream media do? Avert the issue!

This is not about our failure to catch bin Laden, not about the continual threat that he and his organization pose the world. No, this story is about how, clearly, bin Laden is in league with... wait for it... Democrats!

Not just Chris Matthews, but many others have compared bin Laden to Michael Moore and other Dems.

From the Dauo Report:

"Bin Laden sounds like Clint Eastwood" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Ron Silver" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Rush Limbaugh" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bill O'Reilly"-- "Bin Laden sounds like Mel Gibson" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bruce Willis" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Michelle Malkin"... Imagine the outrage on the right and in the press (but I repeat myself) if a major media figure spat out those words. Well, on Hardball, Chris Matthews just blurted out that Bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore. Simple: Matthews should apologize. On the air. This has NOTHING to do with Michael Moore and everything to do with how far media figures can go slandering the left.

Voila! Suddenly the story is not about the failure of this administration to deal with a powerful threat to our national security. Media Magic!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Going to California!

But not quite yet.

Tomorrow I have (another) meeting with an advisor. Who, inevitably, will not know what to do with the whole double degree thing. *sigh*

I will not be mailing my 1/15 deadline grad application supplementary materials tomorrow, either. There are a few reasons for this. I have not printed everything out because by the time I got around to going to the library, they were closed (I know! It's crazy!). I still kind of need to finish cutting my statement of purpose down for two schools and I need to shorten my writing sample for a third who limits to 20 pages. But, all of these could have been done (I would have found ways to print, etc) were it not for the fact that the letters that recommender #2 said would be left with the department secretary, were, um, not. They needed to be sent in the packet with the other materials. So, I'm going to hold off sending until Friday a week from now (when I get back from CA). That's the 13th. I'll overnight them. Bleh. Like $13 a piece. Rec #3 owes me.

On the good side, my UCSB app is complete. They still hadn't received #2's letter, but I emailed her and she faxed it right over, so all is right in the world. At least in Santa Barbara, CA (where I will be 24 hours from now!), Evanston, IL, and Madison, WI. My applications are complete for those schools.

Tomorrow, before I leave, I have to go buy a hairbrush. I can't forget that. And bring writing samples to try to cut down/find another on the plane/waiting at the airport.

Oh, and I have a job interview tomorrow. Wish me luck! I am totally going to need this CA trip by the time it gets here (approx. 8.14pm).

Sunday, January 01, 2006