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A (nonlinear) rant

My inner curmudgeon returned with a vengeance today. Why? It was a variety of things. Let’s start with something that should be a positive, the new annual Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium [1] begins today [2]. That’s awesome. It’s fascinating to see the many things our students do. I’m happy to see that my research students have a poster and a talk. So, why does it make me grumpy? A few reasons. No one bothered to put the poster for the symposium on Noyce third floor. I’ve ranted about that issue before. No one even bothered to put the poster for the symposium on the announcement board by the Science Division office.

To make matters worse, when I was walking to a meeting at 4 pm today [3], I passed a student who said, Do I really have to go to Title IX training now? Now, Title IX training is very important; I make sure that our tutors and mentors participate. But if we consider the symposium important (and it is), the administration should not schedule required events at the same time as the symposium [4].

Somewhere around that time, I received two statements of concern from students. Both issues made me upset. I almost sent out a very nasty rant to my department [5]. Some followup work showed me that one issue of broad concern was a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the other issue, which is of narrower concern, does not appear to be a misunderstanding. I can’t verify the claim since the complainant wants to keep things anonymous, but I don’t doubt the claim and I have to figure out how to follow up on it. Fortunately, there are people I can trust to help me [6].

Then we hit the evening. I noticed that there is a Scholars’ Convocation scheduled for Thursday. I was a bit puzzled since I didn’t recall seeing anything about the Convocation. So I went on a search. Let’s see … I looked at the College calendar. That site is a pain to navigate, and it did have an entry for this Thursday’s convocation. That entry told me that zero people were expected to attend. It did not tell me who was speaking or what they were speaking about.
It did indicate that it was our annual Phi Beta Kappa convocation, which gave me some opportunity for further searching.

But I also noticed something else interesting. The calendar had an entry for the Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium, scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you’ve been keeping track, you know that it makes me utterly furious when people schedule things in conflict with Convo. So I dashed off a note to the current and past chairs of the faculty saying something like Is Convocation no longer sacrosanct? Embarrassingly enough, it turns out that no part of the symposium is scheduled at 11:00; I don’t know why the calendar entry claims it is.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was trying to figure out the topic of this Thursday’s convocation. Since the College Calendar failed me, I went to the Convocation site. That told me that our speaker is David Weiman, Professor of Economics at Banard College [7]. It did not, however, give a title or abstract. It also reaffirmed that this is the Phi Beta Kappa Convocation.

The next place to look is the GrinCo Calendar [8]. You’d think this would have the same events as on our main calendar, but you’d be wrong. The two seem somewhat independent. In fact, Convocation isn’t even listed on the GrinCo Calendar.

Where would you look next? I looked on the College’s Phi Beta Kappa site. Nope, nothing there, either.

I tried a Web search next. I did find an article in The Key Reporter about Weiman. That article tells me that

Weiman offered three lecture topics for each institution to choose from: What Is Money? A Historical Perspective, Jackson versus Hamilton: Monetary Union and the Struggle over Political Economic Sovereignty, and Barriers to Reentry? A Labor Market Perspective on Mass Incarceration.

I’ll admit that I find the last the most interesting, and it’s also what the interview I found is about. But then I noticed another line.

Weiman’s next stop will be April 20-21 at Grinnell College in Indiana

People sometimes confuse Iowa with Ohio [9,10] and with Idaho [11]. This time may be the first instance I’ve seen of someone confusing us with Indiana. My only guess is that the writer saw IA and couldn’t remember what it stood for. Someone should confiscate that writer’s key.

It appears that Web failed me. I know, I’ll go back to a more traditional mode of gathering information: email [12]! I suppose I should write the Phi Beta Kappa officers. Who are they? Their names don’t appear on the Grinnell Phi Beta Kappa site. I know! There was an email a few months ago that asked faculty to encourage students to submit to the Phi Beta Kappa essay competition. I don’t throw away emails like that [14]. That will have the information, right? Nope. It just has the name of the person who was coordinating the competition, who is past chair.

When in doubt, spam people [15]. I wrote to the past chair and three other faculty I think have been associated with Grinnell Phi Beta Kappa in the past. As long as I was asking, I also mentioned where I looked and asked them to write to headquarters to get them to fix Grinnell’s location. The past chair provided an abstract. It appears we went with the popular name and chose the Hamilton talk.

Hamilton versus Jackson: A Monetary Debate

The redesign of the U.S. currency had inadvertently rekindled a contentious political debate that dates from the very origins of the American Republic. The two main protagonists were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, who famously sparred over constitutional reforms and the policies of the first Washington administration. Its current version pits Hamilton (on the $10 bill) against Andrew Jackson (on the $20). Ironically, money was a central issue in the conflict between Hamilton and Jefferson and between Hamilton’s successors and Jackson. In this talk (or perhaps debate, see below), I propose to revisit the money question in the early republic, and in doing so to complicate the current consensus for Hamitton [sic] and against Jackson, which may have more to do with Hamilton’s portrayal in the Broadway musical than with historical legacies of either man. [16,17]

While I’d prefer the incarceration talk, I’ll be at this Convocation. I hope you will be there, too.

You know what? I could have looked at the poster for Convocation to get this information. Oh, never mind; there aren’t any posters for Convocation in the places I’d normally look [18].

[1] The acronym maker in me wants to call it the Scholarship, Creative Activity, and Research Symposium. That gives us SCARS.

[2] There was a preliminary talk by three faculty members last night.
I’ll still claim that the Symposium itself started today.

[3] Yeah, I would rather have gone to the symposium. But the meeting was important, too.

[4] Now that I’ve chilled a bit, I realize that the student may have been given a choice of times and chosen that one. Nonetheless, at the time, it made me angry. And it’s not the first time that I’ve had students tell me that required training has been scheduled at a time that conflicts with other things they should be doing.

[5] No, you can’t see it. Yes, there’s still a chance I’ll send it at some point.

[6] You may not believe this, but some of the people who I trust to help me are members of the administration.

[7] He’s actually at Barnard College.

[8] It’s on GrinCo. You may not be able to access it, since it’s probably behind a password wall. Don’t ask me why.

[9] Both names have lots of vowels.

[10] During one of our presidential searches, the Chronicle ad for the position appeared in the Ohio section. I wish I had saved that ad.

[11] I, o, and a in some order, plus another letter or so.

[12] Phone would be better, but I was looking for the information after 8 pm.

[14] People who have seen my office know that I don’t throw much out.

[15] Spam is pretty close to Sam. The p in spam may be silent, like the p in pseudonymous.

[16] The abstract is almost certainly by David Weiman.

[17] The [sic] is mine. Grammarly would tell him to drop the comma before and in doing so. Grammarly would also tell me to put that period before the end quotation mark, even though his sentence does not end with so.

[18] Noyce 3rd. Board outside of the Science office. Board in Psych hallway. Board by the South entrance to Noyce.

Version 1.0 of 2017-04-18.