Short thoughts on a variety of pieces that have appeared lately in the New York Times:
Decline of the Tenure Track Raises Concerns: I do believe that within 15 years of the US getting some sort of easily accessible, mandated, government supported healthcare/health insurance that this will be the norm for educated and creative workers. We will all be contract workers, responsible for setting our own rates and negotiating our own time off. We can go back and band together in guilds to create some protections and advocacy. And that's why I think universal healthcare would be a boon to this country. It will also be kind of hellish, but that's where I see the future workplace going.
At Wikipedia, Illustrators May Be Paid: One of the things that gets me about Wikipedia, along with the reliability and information literacy issues, is the idea that people are giving their intellectual product away for free and not even getting a credit for it. MFA Jane and I have talked a bit about writing, how yes, it's work--pleasant, challenging work, but work nonetheless. It seems to me that if you insist that it's easy, that it’s no trouble, and you’re giving it away for free that you are devaluing your intellectual processes and content to a dangerous degree.
Brazilians Giving Up Their American Dream: I find this interesting because during the heyday of American immigration before the 1924 Immigration Act, fully a quarter of immigrants repatriated after coming to this country for a while. My great-grandmother took my grandmother and her son back to Slovakia after her husband died. Yeah, yeah, America's a wonderful country but is it so bad that you go someplace to make money and then return? More and more the attitude is we don't want any foreigners here anyway. Ironic, that. The woman who mentioned her young children asking in the future why she left totally cracks me up--her kids are citizens, they can come back! In 1929, my grandmother and her friend Mary Chandra left Slovakia and came to the US on $50 my grandmother's aunt sent her and the strength of Grandma's U.S. birth certificate. My grandma's eyes were so bad she wouldn't have been allowed in otherwise--between the 1924 crackdown on Eastern European immigrants and her health, she would have been considered unfit.
Your Hairdressers Know, But They're Not Talking: Ha! I'm always "Uh, you are not my friend..." when I'm in the salon chair. But I also jump around on haircutters and salons. I don't want a relationship! Fear of commitment!
Will You Marry Me? Say "Cheese!" Did you know that you're not supposed to congratulate women on getting engaged? I think it is because as women we are so special and sweet that any man would want to marry us and turn us into helpmeets and bed partners. It's all about access to sanctioned sex and heirs. Wow, I really should cut back on the historical romance. You are supposed to congratulate the man because he went out on a limb and asked an important question for which he could be turned down. So see, by being vulnerable, you get cred. I however, would hate to have my fellow do this. Private events should be private. Anyway, apropos de nada I should have known that a particular friend was affianced to an asshole when he not only asked her to marry him in public, but he did it in front of a fraternity alumni gathering. Way to prop up that shaky self esteem, dude!
Colleges Shaken By Soaring Cost of Birth Control: Oh, I have no sympathy for this. There's no basic human right to have sex. Chalk it up as evidence of decreasing personal responsibility--look, if you can't afford birth control, if you can't stand to do to the doctor and get poked and take responsibility for your health, and if you can't talk to you partner about what to do when precautions fail, you shouldn't be having sex. It's not the university's responsibility to provide you with birth control, nor is it the taxpayer's responsibility to underwrite it, however indirectly. Yes, I took advantage of the $5 Pill when I was in school, but I didn't consider it a right. If birth control cost more, I'd have paid the cost for reliable birth control because it was important to me not to get pregnant. And I did pay more and have to shop around when I got out of school and got a job.