Category Archives: Uncategorized


It’s been one week since the Annapolis shooting. All mass shootings bother me, of course, but this one especially so. Maybe it’s because my first career was as a journalist. Maybe it’s because we seem to have moved on so quickly. Maybe it’s because of our president’s vilification of a free press (1, 2). For whatever reason, this particular act of terrorism left me breathless. When the Capital Gazette published a blank editorial page (3), I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

So, I want to thank all my journalist friends. I see you. You’re doing a hard and important job under difficult conditions. I respect that so much. We need you.

I hope others will reach out to journalists as well. I can say from my own experience that the hours are long, the pay is not enough, and the abuse from readers can be both exhausting and frightening. But for me, at least, it was always worthwhile when somebody told me that my reporting had an impact on them. (And the colleagues also made it worthwhile. In my experience, journalists are just some of the best people you’ll ever meet.)

The free press is important, people. Protect it. Reach out to a journalist. Subscribe to a newspaper. For heaven’s sake, consume multiple news sources.

Here is the text of the First Amendment, the constitutional root of our free press and our free speech in this country, for reflection. (And this is from memory, btw, because our journalism teachers are also amazing.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.













Even more troubling than the economic damage the tariff is causing is the threat it presents to the strength of America’s free press. The rise of online advertising already has shattered the business model of many newspapers, and most small regional dailies have been forced to consolidate or close. Those that have shifted to an online-only format have tended to offer fewer well-reported stories of interest to local readers.

In such an environment, a sharp price hike in newsprint, which is generally the biggest budget item after labor, could force dozens of additional publications to close or be reduced to shadows of their former selves. The killing of local newspapers by the imposition of tariffs would gut the nation’s free press. It is local newspapers, not cable news networks, that scrutinize the goings-on at town halls, and how tax dollars are spent on schools and public works. Local papers are indispensable in uncovering corruption in government. They expose hospitals that mistreat patients and companies that dump chemicals into local streams. For many people of modest means or who live in rural areas, these papers are the top source of community news and information.








Trouble with Gender Flips

I do like the absurdities a gender flip points out, but the complexities sometimes get lost. Pretty good piece here from the NY Times:

Eyes on Paulette Jordan

Someone to watch! I especially like her response to the “next time” rhetoric near the end of the article. For so long, women have been socialized to step aside to make room for men to do the work of government–but men aren’t doing a great job, so that’s coming to an end. Qualified women are now stepping up instead of  stepping aside. That can only be good for everyone!



Men named John

This is both silly … and troublesome …

Being a Woman in the Academy

I really can’t emphasize the importance of these stories enough:

One of my favorite quotes from this pub is: “To succeed, women are often expected to show deference (often euphemized as “team spirit”) and then to jujitsu our way into being the best one for the job without making anyone else feel bad along the way.” That is to say, this quote rings true for me. I’m sure many other quotes in the collected stories at the link above will be favorites for women whose experiences may differ from my own.

Since returning from leave, I’ve been working to do a bit more truth-telling. One thing that’s on my mind right now is that my department is considering a change to our code that has to do with the make-up of a particularly time-intensive committee. Essentially, the powers-that-be want to change the make-up of this committee so that assistant professors no longer have guaranteed representation. (Currently, two seats are reserved for each rank: assistant, associate, full.)

I favor protecting assistant professors’ time, but I also strongly believe that they should have a voice on this particular committee. (And compromises exist that could make both possible.) The problem is the timing of this change. In the last five years, we’ve had 10 assistant professors in my department who were eligible to sit on this committee. Seven of them have served; some of those seven have served more than a single term and some have served despite only being 51% appointed to our department and some have served when they obviously didn’t want to but were pressured into it. Every single one of these seven is female and/or queer and/or a person of color–and every single one of these seven have been recently promoted so as to make them no longer eligible for those assistant professor seats. Of the remaining three assistant professors, every single one is straight, white, and male. The exigence for the department’s consideration of this change is obvious. I don’t need to single anybody out to note that this is an unacceptable pattern.

To be clear, our department is planning to adjust its regulatory rhetorics so as to make more women, queers, and people of color available for labor that the department doesn’t want straight white men to have to do. This, in a department where women, at least, are already demonstrably overtaxed. And, importantly, this proposed change is detrimental to shared governance and thus to all future assistant professors.

I imagine many of my colleagues don’t see it this way. They don’t see it as a big deal; they don’t see code language that doesn’t mention gender as having effects on gendered labor. I realize that my own area of specialization being gender and technical communication probably makes this situation readable to me in ways that it isn’t to others. That lack of vision is part of the problem. I’m so frustrated at the continuing pattern in my department, my university, and my field wherein certain types of people are expected to do so much more labor in order to be considered equal–or, indeed, relevant.

To combat this, we’ve got to be willing to tell our stories–like the brave people in the Chronicle article above, and like I’m beginning to do here. It’s a start.

NYTimes: U.S. parents beginning to prefer daughters?


I’ve been absent for a while because I’ve been on maternity leave. In December, I had a little girl. We named her Caroline, after my grandmother. Caroline was diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome at about 20 weeks, back in August. She was beautiful and lived for several hours. She changed our lives.