An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

The Contemplative Mammoth

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch. Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you…

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Sir Terry Pratchett Reaches the End of Cake

Sir Terry PratchettI almost never write about celebrity deaths, but this is one that has me genuinely heartbroken. Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my all-time favorite authors, has passed at the age of 66. Much too soon.

The headlines, presumably written by those who don’t really know his work, call him a fantasy author. While it’s true, it only scratches the surface. Pratchett wasn’t just a fantasy author, he was a brilliant satirist and humorist. His Discworld novels were at times laugh-out-loud funny, while telling engaging stores about a rotating cast of beloved characters. They poked fun at some of the crazier things in our society. They had heart.

The joy of satire is it allows us to laugh at some of the things that might otherwise make us cry. Pratchett’s stories not only pointed out, humorously, the bad things but also the good things. He helped his readers appreciate their health, their family, their friends.

I’m feeling particularly ineloquent right now, so I’ll end this with a quote. RIP, good Sir.

THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

-Death, in Night Watch (Death speaks in ALL CAPS, always.)

Messing with Texas 

These hateful laws are coming so fast it’s almost impossible to keep track of them now. The latest I’ve seen is in Texas, where a state law maker has proposed a law similar to the the one enacted recently in Arkansas. It would roll back protections against LGBT people enacted in many of the state’s larger cities. Oh, and the author has a gay son, and that son is not happy. 

Beau Miller wrote on his Facebook wall on Thursday, “As many of you know by now, my dad has authored and submitted a bill in the Texas House of Representatives that, if signed into law, would prevent municipalities in Texas from maintaining sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws. While I love my dad very much, I am extremely disappointed by his actions and will do everything I can to prevent that bill, or any such legislation, from becoming law.”

The more inroads we make the harder they fight back. So much for conservative family values. Good luck, Beau.

Georgia Taking the Piss

Well damn, we can’t let our guards down for a minute. Not even long enough to take a leak, apparently. That Georgia “religious liberty” bill I mentioned recently was tabled? Not any more.

The Republican members of the committee considering the bill voted quickly on it while the Democratic member was on a bathroom break.

After several hours of deliberations at Monday’s committee meeting, however, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Fort asked McKoon if he could pause work for a moment to use the bathroom. McKoon obliged, but while the Democrat hurried to the lavatory, the rest of the committee — which consisted entirely of Republicans once Fort left the room — quickly pulled the “religious liberty” bill off the table and began voting. A staffer alerted other Democrats who rushed to the scene, but the committee had already passed the bill by the time lawmakers arrived.

The bill will move to the full Senate for a vote.

Do we need to start a fund to provide Democratic lawmakers in … certain states … with stadium pals?