Monthly Archives: December 2016


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Contract or job?

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The gig economy is getting some pushback from workers who claim that they’re actually employees rather than contractors, and thus deserve some of the rights normally afforded to workers. Notably, Uber has lost such a case in England, and in 2013, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against an… Read more »

Producers and Consumers

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Products are made. Products are consumed. And how we think about a product depends on which of those worlds we stand in. What does it take to buy a college course? Well, it takes three things. It takes the intellectual history to be allowed into that course (whether through qualifying… Read more »

Pyramid Scheme

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I had a really interesting interview this afternoon with a scholar who, for over thirty years, has taught in a writing program at a major research university, a giant school with more undergraduate students than the entire population of my hometown. And this writing program is staffed as follows: about 100… Read more »

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

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Nope, not a vaudeville duo. Rather, an 1887 division of social-group types by the German proto-sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies. Gemeinschaft (more or less meaning “community”) is a group of people who work to maintain bonds with one another, who know one another well enough that a sense of belonging matters for its… Read more »

Alternate explanation

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I just re-read Marc Bousquet’s How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation. You should, too, though you should be prepared for a deeply inside-language analysis that privileges critical theory over looking around. But one of the things that I’m still puzzled by is a question that isn’t… Read more »

Professional Boundaries

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What can lawyers do that paralegals cannot? They can establish the attorney-client relationship They can offer legal advice They can sign papers and pleadings on behalf of a client They can appear in court on behalf of a client They can set and collect fees They can earn a national average… Read more »

Difficult Questions

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Not difficult as in complicated, like the force of windload on a high-rise building. But difficult as in contentious, as in perhaps uncharitable, as in perhaps unanswerable at any rate. There are about 18 million undergraduate students in the US, up almost a third since 2000. How many of them,… Read more »

The Barber’s Wisdom

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Every six or eight weeks, I go to the next town over and stop in for a haircut. It’s a one-chair barbershop in a ratty 19th century commercial building, behind the laundromat and across the street from the convenience store. Jeff has three kids. One just got his PhD, one… Read more »

Flooding the Market

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Just got back from some chores, looking through the mail. My wife (Ph.D. Environmental Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center, 1982) got an alumni solicitation letter from the psychology program’s new-ish “Acting Executive Officer,” crowing about the status of the program and asking for dough. Along with the bragging points about $25M in… Read more »