« Another precinct heard from | Main | The wisdom of crowds »

Tenure committees everywhere: Be afraid

By Michael J. Smith on Friday February 12, 2010 10:13 PM

The intense sturdy suspect shown above is Dr. Amy Bishop, a "Harvard-University trained neuroscientist", according to the Huntsville Times. Dr Bishop is said to have shot up a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, after being denied tenure. Personally, I would have thought twice before voting against this lady.

(The campus was subsequently placed "on lockdown", as nearly every news outlet reported with lip-smacking relish and righteous approval. Does anybody else remember the milieu where this phrase originated?)

Kate Dailey, a blunchkin at Newsweek's site, observes:

... shootings on college campuses have become all too common.... universities have been the backdrop for some of America's most notorious shooting sprees.
Hmmm. Wonder why?

Dailey goes on to quote a colleague:

Women, says [Jack] Levin, [professor] of [sociology at] Northeastern, are more likely to turn their anger inward and commit suicide rather than homicide. When they do turn violent, either against themselves or others, they're less likely to use a gun.
Apparently it's becoming more of an equal-opportunity country. Black guys can become Leader of The Free-Fire Zone, excuse me, Free World, and female Harvard PhDs can go strapped into Alabama faculty meetings.

La Dailey sorrowfully opines:

it's human curiosity to speculate—as if by mastering the details, we can make some sense out of senseless violence.
"Senseless" is of course a classic case of the unexamined assumption, unless you believe all violence is senseless, and I bet Kate doesn't. Having spent some years on the inside of the credentialling sector myself, I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. I guess that's because these poor folks are mostly so crushed and over-socialized that they can only respond to the capricious sadism of their senior colleagues by trying harder.

Will this incident have a chilling effect on tenure committees? On faculty meetings? Will the tenured elect start wearing flak jackets on campus? Will you have to pass through an X-ray machine and submit to a pat-down before you can attend the English Department's sherry hour?

One can only hope so. Lockdown U, rah rah rah!

Comments (8)


"as nearly every news outlet reported with lip-smacking relish and righteous approval."

phrase origin

May 11, 1960, ???

the eichmann snatch



"My laboratory's goal will be to continue in our effort to develop a neural computer, the Neuristorâ„¢, using living neurons. This computer will exploit all of the advantages of neurons. Specifically, neurons rich with the nitric oxide NO dependent learning receptor, N Methyl D Aspartate receptor NMDAR, will be utilized. These have previously been studied in the context of induced adaptive resistance to NO IAR. For the Neuristorâ„¢ we will take advantage of the IAR phenomena since it has been demonstrated that IAR neurons express more learning and memory receptors NMDAR as well as increased neurite outgrowth. The neurons that we are currently using are mammalian motor neurons. We are exploring the possibility of using neurons derived from adult stem cells, and from bony fishes provided by Bruce Stallsmith Ph.D. This laboratory has created a portable cell culture incubator, the Cell Driveâ„¢ that is an ideal support structure for the Neuristor"."

" hypothesis:
.... Bishop went off when she perceived the University as trying to take and profit
off of an idea she developed, just as they were getting rid of her."


" At that point, Bishop may have went berserk"

attempt to stop
an intellectual property crime
in progress ???

Al Schumann:

Shooting up faculty meetings is like shooting caged fowl. There's no sport. Bagging a department chair hardly makes up for that.

The keen hunter wants to hand something significant over to the taxidermist. A provost can make you the envy of your neighbors.


I always thought "lockdown" was a prison-guard term. When there's a problem in the Pen, or a possible problem, you go to "lockdown".

Nowadays, since everybody who is not a guard is an inmate, lockdown is something that can happen even to those of us who haven't been convicted of a crime -- yet.

Give 'em time. If they can't find an old crime that fills the bill, they'll define a new one.

Al Schumann:

When I was of an age to be forcibly educated, my school friends and I used to joke that high school was the prep school for prison. This was long before the metal detectors and permanent police presence on campus. There were no lockdowns and for those headed to college, there was the possibility of actual learning, along with the real reason for jumping through all the hoops: a credential — as a big step up the class pyramid or consolidation of the previous generation's gains.

It was a shuck back then, although sufficient skill at the upjumping hoopsmanship did mean better pay somewhere along the line. Anyone who wanted an education, of the kind that doesn't go into sarcasm quotes, could find something too. I imagine that's still the case, but it looks far more cynical and the enforced faux naivete looks like psychotic goading. The influx of prison terminology is oddly appropriate.

I always thought "lockdown" was a prison-guard term. When there's a problem in the Pen, or a possible problem, you go to "lockdown".

Indeed, and the "supermax" prisons that everyone wants to send the Gitmo detainees to are those on permanent lockdown: isolated, remotely operated single-unit cells to which prisoners are confined for 23 hours out of 24, just long enough to shower out in the open and take a brief turn around the exercise yard. The same thing goes, in many jails, for people who haven't been arraigned yet. I once spent a weekend experiencing the charms of lockdown after "stopping traffic" at a recruiting center. Maybe it was because I went to an urban public high school in the mid-90s, but I accommodated quite well to the real thing.

Nowadays, since everybody who is not a guard is an inmate, lockdown is something that can happen even to those of us who haven't been convicted of a crime -- yet.

Along with roadblocks and checkpoints. When I went to the Gaza Strip with the ISM, I was struck by the parallels between the U.S. and a country under open military occupation. Even when I was a moderate conservative, I found it difficult to seriously entertain the idea that the U.S. was the "freest nation on earth" and now that phrase just generates hollow laughter.

I also meant to mention that the legal framework by which a university can steal your work and auction it off to the highest bidder, even if it was produced pursuant to federal funding, is called the Bayh-Dole Act. Yet another case of that bipartisanship we all need to strive for in these divisive times.

As an "apprentice biologist" going for my doctorate, stuff like that is why I've given very serious consideration to leaving the country.

Just read this on a blog I follow infrequently:


It's not as explicitly political as the usual fare around here, but the author does make interesting connections between the right-wing attempt to destroy the Post Office and "going postal" and the right-wing's current attempt to defund, disrupt, and destroy the university system.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Friday February 12, 2010 10:13 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Another precinct heard from.

The next post in this blog is The wisdom of crowds.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31