Faculty to University of Oregon: Oh No We Don’t!

by Corey Robin on September 19, 2013

Great news! The faculty union at the University of Oregon, whose struggle I reported on a few days ago, has forced the administration to give up its extreme proposals on faculty freedom, autonomy, and privacy, and has signed its first contract. Thanks in part to all of you who wrote the administration.

Here’s how one union member, in an email, describes the victory:

Over the past week, the administration has completely backed off its extreme proposals around faculty rights and free expression.  Specifically:

The contract guarantees that freedom of speech includes freedom to voice internal criticism of university personnel or practices.

The administration completely dropped its proposal to regulate faculty’s right to consult with outside organizations.

The administration completely dropped its proposal to be allowed to “monitor” and spy on faculty emails, files or web surfing, and can only access faculty computer usage for truly “legitimate” needs such as system maintenance (with “legitimate” now a defined and grievable term).

The administration completely dropped its demand about owning all creations, inventions and course materials of faculty — we agreed to set up a joint union/administration committee to discuss this issue in the future, but until and unless that committee comes to voluntary agreement, there will be no change in the current policy, under which faculty own their own products.

I’m sure that the many messages from faculty across the US and internationally helped convince the administration to do the right thing.

Thank you to all of you for weighing in on this!

Proving once again that if you care about the future of the academy you should join a union, if you can, or support academic unions, if you can’t.

I haven’t seen a copy of the settlement, but the union also reports that it won average salary increases of nearly 12 percent over the two years of the agreement and minimum salaries for non-tenure track faculty. You can read more about the settlement here.

Congrats to the union! Well done.

The King’s Speech

by Henry on September 19, 2013

“Yesterday”:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/2ebe4036-1a02-11e3-93e8-00144feab7de.html#axzz2fLYIOrfd in the _Financial Times._

bq. The Netherlands’ newly inaugurated King Willem-Alexander has made his first annual appearance before parliament one to remember, with a speech effectively announcing the end of the generous Dutch welfare state. … “Due to social developments such as globalisation and an ageing population, our labour market and public services are no longer suited to the demands of the times,” the king said, in a speech written by the Liberal prime minister, Mark Rutte, and his cabinet. “The classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a ‘participatory society’,” he continued – one, that is, where citizens will be expected to take care of themselves, or create civil-society solutions for problems such as retiree welfare.

Rene Cuperus has an article on the “politics of this”:http://www.policy-network.net/pno_detail.aspx?ID=4466&title=The-Dutch-social-laboratory-From-progressivism-to-populism-&utm_source=Policy+Network+List&utm_campaign=78cdbb14dc-State_of_the_Left_Month_Year_NEW_TEMPLATE2_27_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5d3568f16b-78cdbb14dc-301016437 in _Policy Network_ today.

bq. the actual political and social situation in the Netherlands … is quite depressing …The country is [a] member of the Northern Elite Club of Triple A creditors, but at the same time it is suffering from Southern European-style economic problems: a home-made housing bubble, rising youth unemployment, marginal economic growth. … For that reason, political trust in the social-liberal Grand Coalition of the conservative-liberal VVD (prime minister Mark Rutte) and the social-democratic PvdA (Party Leader Diederik Samsom; Vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher) is at an all-time low. The established parties got all the blame for the predicament of the Dutch economy, whilst the populist protest parties are sky high rocketing in the opinion polls. This applies especially to the right-wing populist PVV Freedom party of Geert Wilders, and to a lesser extent to the Party for the Elderly (50Plus) and the left-wing Socialist Party (SP).

bq. The Netherlands now has become one of the populist laboratories of Europe and the world … One could even state, that this new Netherlands constitutes and represents a huge warning to other countries, especially to neighbouring Germany. For Germany, the Netherlands has transformed from a positive guide land to follow into a “negative guide land’’ not to follow. The Dutch developments are a nightmare scenario for Germany, an image of fear.

I don’t know enough about Dutch politics to comment intelligently. But I know that some of our commenters are in a much better position, and would be interested to see what you have to say.

With a bottle of wine, and some pills on the shelf

by Chris Bertram on September 19, 2013

Today is the fortieth anniversary of Gram Parsons’s death in Joshua Tree, CA, a death famously followed by two funerals, after the coffin containing his body was stolen from LAX by his road manager so that he could be cremated in the desert (as previously agreed, apparently). Relatives got the partially incinerated body back, and completed the job (as it were) in Florida. There’s even a rather uneven film about it: Grand Theft Parsons.

When Parsons died, he’d never had a hit record. He was a too-rich young man from the South, who loved country music, fancied being a rock star, and who threw much of his talent away with the drugs and booze he could readily afford. Not much to admire, you might think.

Parsons’s fame rests on five albums: the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gilded Palace of Sin and Burrito Deluxe, then the solo GP and Grievous Angel (the latter two cut with the top session musicians his money could afford). All of them contain a mix of his own songs and covers of classic country and sometimes soul. His own compositions, written in the country-rock idiom he helped invent, are suggestive, even enigmatic, vignettes of American life, love, faith, betrayal and death. “$1000 Dollar Wedding”, perhaps my personal favourite (though I change my mind all the time) tells a story of death and tragedy, a wedding transformed into a funeral, but what, exactly, has happened? We have to invent a lot of that for ourselves. “Sin City”, recorded with the Burritos, also tells a story of something. What? Evangelism? Conflict between money and faith? “The scientists say, it will all wash away, but we don’t believe any more ….” And other songs depict childhood, nostalgia and loss: “Hickory Wind” (recorded with the Byrds and re-recorded on Grievous Angel), “Brass Buttons”, in which he remembers his mother. None of them have dated.
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Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves

by Harry on September 19, 2013

My daughter’s friend thinks I am incredibly cool. Part of the musical cognoscenti. I have to find a nice way of disabusing her.

The soccer run was a major locus of conflict last year. The drive is far enough and frequent enough that the 12-year old girls want to listen to “their” music, and enough of a bore that I don’t want to be assaulted by rubbish. A modus vivendi was eventually established, in which their ipods were the inputs, but I got to veto anything I couldn’t stand hearing. (As soon as the truce was signed, their taste (magically!) improved, and we started hearing more Buble than Beiber, because basically they are nice kids and, having won their battle, were magnanimous). Taylor Swift is pretty easy on the ear, so I know a lot of the songs (and in fact took the 12 year old to see her for her 12th birthday. In Des Moines!). Sometime in early spring I heard a review of an album called Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves which really appealed to me. Musgraves has a very similar voice to Swift’s, is more country, less pop — and the songs are, really, for grown ups rather than teens (or tweens). Very catchy melodies, they are about stagnation, fear of risk, and the risks of being paralysed by fear of risk. So I started playing it in the car, and, to get my way, just told them it was Taylor Swift’s earliest album, that had not had wide release. They believed me for about 2 weeks — until they decided that, really, this was too good to be Taylor Swift (it is, no disrespect to Taylor Swift, who is multi-talented, but Kacey Musgraves is really something). “The words are too clever for Taylor”. Now they’d much rather listen to Musgraves than Swift.

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