Archive for work-life

“Intimate supervision”: Surveillance on campus

This Washington Post report – holy crap:

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health. …

Instead of GPS coordinates, the schools rely on networks of Bluetooth transmitters and wireless access points to piece together students’ movements from dorm to desk. One company that uses school WiFi networks to monitor movements says it gathers 6,000 location data points per student every day.

School and company officials call location monitoring a powerful booster for student success: If they know more about where students are going, they argue, they can intervene before problems arise. But some schools go even further, using systems that calculate personalized “risk scores” based on factors such as whether the student is going to the library enough.

The dream of some administrators is a university where every student is a model student, adhering to disciplined patterns of behavior that are intimately quantified, surveilled and analyzed.

cross-posted from nocontest.ca

h/t Clarissa

Friendship

I love this detail:

The commentator Fran Lebowitz, a longtime friend of Toni Morrison’s, recounted times when Morrison would comfort her after a bad review. Morrison herself was impervious to criticism, Lebowitz said, so she “assigned myself the task of holding Toni’s grudges for her.”

(PS: I wonder how *author* Lebowitz feels about the word “commentator.”)

Waiting for it to start, waiting for it to end …

I like my friend Jonathan Mayhew’s recent insight into procrastination:

Procrastination is the avoidance of a particular emotion associated with a task. It could be boredom, frustration, fear or dread, shame or guilt. The avoidance of the task, though, does not mean an avoidance of that emotion, but it’s prolongation. You are essentially carrying around that emotion with you all the time. Completing the task, then, is a release from that emotion, not its prolongation.

So there must be some positive benefit to procrastination: one could become habituated to that tension and release of emotion, or thrive on the adrenaline of almost missing deadlines.

Professor Mayhew’s been really good on this theme over the years.

Be Wary of Praise

When I asked my mom if she liked anything about my first book, she said “the copyright page.”

Simpleness: A Sequel

Last week before I headed off to teach back-to-back classes at my university, I stopped off at a McDonalds for a breakfast sandwich so that I wouldn’t faint in front of my students; it was gross but I was starved and I gobbled it down. I sat on a stool that faced the sidewalk on Davie Street; a bedraggled fellow was fiddling with his bike in front of me.

When I was done with my sandwich I walked to the bus stop. The fellow was on his bike riding toward me in the lowest gear. He was laughing but in a growling timbre.

As he passed by, he said this to me: “Look at how fat you are – and now look at me! Eat a salad, motherfucker!”

I had stuffed my face in front of a homeless man.

Solidarity

A Labour Day Test from Clarissa: “If you have 3-4 days off for Labor Day, it’s probably not a holiday aimed at you.”

Shakespeare’s Sister retires

Feminist Melissa McEwan’s blog Shakesville [originally called “Shakespeare’s Sister”] has been around for almost as long as this site, though she has always been much more prolific. Her blog also created its own intelligent, progressive community of readers and commenters. I’m sad McEwan has called it quits.

After nearly 15 years, exactly one-third of my life, I am moving on from Shakesville. …

I love this community. I love writing for you. I love the research and the silly photoshops and crafting nerdy political jokes. I love talking about our individual lived experiences and learning from you. I love helping people find and access resources, or figure out a tough problem, in private communications. I love seeing pictures of your faces, your kids, your pets. I love making you laugh, and I love how often you make me laugh.

I don’t love the nature of the content about which I’ve been writing, especially these last couple of years. But even that would be tolerable, if it weren’t for everything else that I am obliged to navigate as part of being a fat feminist woman writing in public. I don’t need to recount it. You’ve seen enough to know that it is a steep cost, and it turns out that even I have limits. I have reached them.

The truth is that I reached them a long time ago, and I stayed far longer than I should have, and now I’m paying the price with both my psychological and physical health.

So I’m going to go take care of myself. I don’t know what’s next after that. I’m frankly pretty scared, because I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s a huge part of who I am. It is very difficult to let go.

Godspeed, Melissa. And thank you for your work.

h/t Clarissa