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A little message from The Regents
Nov 29th, 2011 by Dr Karma

From a report (http://www.baycitizen.org/education/story/protesters-demand-uc-regents-raises/) on the Regents’ meeting yesterday: “The regents also approved salary raises for 10 administrators and managers, including a 9.9 percent increase for Meredith Michaels, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Irvine, whose annual salary will increase to $247,275 from $225,000.

“Six campus attorneys also received salary increases. The largest increase, 21.9 percent, went to Steven A. Drown, chief campus counsel and associate general counsel at UC Davis. His yearly salary will rise to $250,000 from $205,045.”

Let’s remember what the protests are about, shall we? After already raising tuition by about 40%, the Regents are poised to vote on an 81% additional increase for UC Students.
I accept that there will be a great divide between my salary and the salary of those above me, even though, in all honesty, someone making 250,000 doesn’t not actually have 6 times the experience I do, nor 6 times the education. I know for a fact that that person doesn’t put in 6 times the hours, either.
It is disconcerting, though, that in a time of recession in California, of educational crisis, that someone’s salary could pay for 6 of me, allowing thousands more students to take the classes they need to graduate. It is odd to consider someone’s raise being more than my entire salary, as my own union has to fight to make sure we get 1% a year, which does not make up for inflation.
The big bosses say that these raises are necessary, or else we won’t have good people doing these jobs. It’s disheartening to know that good people doing the actual teaching aren’t considered near that important. Neither are good students in the classrooms, since admittance will surely soon be about being able to afford education, not to thrive in it.
They also want you to know that serving on this committee, the one where they get to vote to give themselves raises, is an “unpaid” service to the university. What is my unpaid service? Serving on two department committees (chairing one); serving on two university-wide committees; attending meetings and events; mentoring students; teaching “special” one on one courses (for no pay at all); advising on dissertations; writing hundreds of recommendation letters; giving lectures for other people’s classes, programs, and the book project; answering emails from students every single day of the week and on holidays; publishing, attending conferences, and staying current in my field.
It’s interesting that the regents feel it notable that they attend regents meetings without bonus pay.
There’s a clear message from the regents to the students, parents, and teachers in this system. They didn’t need to have a big meeting about it–just flipping us the bird would have saved a lot of time.
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On the UCD press coverage
Nov 22nd, 2011 by Dr Karma

Many of us here at Davis are frustrated by the inaccuracies in the media about the motivation behind the protests at Davis. Yesterday, the Public Relations Committee of the UWP talked about ways in which this might be addressed.
This morning, after hearing even my local NPR do an oversimplification, I drafted this letter. A few members of the PR Committee have also attached their names, & I’ve just sent it out.
Dear CapRadio,

National and international press coverage of the incidents at UC Davis has included a fundamental error; and we have noticed this mistake replicated on our local NPR station, CapRadio.

Just this morning, CapRadio reported that the pepper-spraying incidents occurred after the chancellor told the police to dismantle the “Occupy Wall Street” tents. Although many of the protestors on campus support the Occupy Wall Street aims, and although some Occupy Wall Street supporters have joined the protest at UC Davis, reporting that these rallies and strikes are about the Wall Street movement is inaccurate. A brief outline of the actual events follows.

The initial movement, which has been called “Occupy UC” and “Reclaim UC,” is a protest against the proposed 81% tuition hike. Berkeley held protests as a part of this movement, and violence was used against those protestors.

UC Davis, with the authorization of the Davis Faculty Association, protested both the tuition hike and the brutality used against the Berkeley students. As part of that protest, UC Davis students erected tents on the quad. Their occupation of the space can be interpreted as a form of visual rhetoric that linked their protests to the larger Occupy Movement, but the larger views of the protests are still anti-tuition hike and anti-violence. That our students were attacked by police while protesting violence against Berkeley protestors is an irony ignored by the “Occupy Wall Street” label being applied to the protests. The strike called for November 28th is being lauded (and in some way claimed) by the larger “Occupy” movement, but we ask that reporters accurately state what the students are striking for.

Today, UCLA called for protests to support UC Davis’ anti-violence position and to decry the rise in tuition. We hope that coverage of the wave of protests sweeping the state will voice the actual concerns of the majority of the protestors, rather than oversimplifying and/or misrepresenting what the students’ concerns are. We are especially hopeful that our local station will be the source of the most nuanced and accurate news.

For more information about the movement, please talk to the leaders on the quad. Check out http://reclaimuc.blogspot.com/; and of course, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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London, part 3
Nov 22nd, 2011 by Dr Karma

After the Dr Who Experience, Courtney and I needed lunch.  Unfortunately, we came out of a tube stop from the wrong exit and had to walk around a couple of miles before we came to a pub. I had some traditional fish and chips while C had some amazing lamb. Then Liam met us and we headed to the Victoria and Albert. We tracked down a gigantic musical instrument I saw on a postcard: Tipu’s Tiger.  It’s a tiger attacking a British colonialist–life sized. It is also an organ. The colonialist’s arm moves to simulate trying to push the tiger off.

Then we went to an exhibit on The Power of Making–a large room full of things made from materials you wouldn’t expect–an amazing “glass” sculpture  that’s actually made of sugar, a dress made from needles called the “widow,” but the best thing was a giant silver gorilla made from clothes hangers. It was vibrant and alive and perfect.

After all that culture, we needed libations, so we headed to the Worship Whistle Shop–a place that makes its liquor the victorian way. We had these gin fizzes with sage on top. The atmosphere was very good & so were the drinks. Then we headed to a bar with a cool name that I can’t remember–I had a white linen (though it wasn’t called that). Liam had the guys there make him a a Michelada–it took a while, as it seems that particular drink hasn’t spread that far.

Then we headed back to Liam & Courtney’s, where Liam made chicken wings and we watched what happened to be on TV–Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. I headed back home afterwards & ended up staying up talking to Carmen until late. Didn’t rise until after 1 in the afternoon.

Carmen made some fantastic pancakes, but then I was off to meet Courtney and Liam again. We met at a tapas bar (named Carmen), and then to a friend’s place that was close to the the Bonfire Night festivities  . . .

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Jen Cross’s Talk
Nov 18th, 2011 by Dr Karma

This week, I had the honor of bringing Jen Cross to campus as part of the University Writing Program’s Conversations with Writers series. Jen is a writer and workshop leader who specializes in erotic writing, exploring its tranformative and healing effects. I encouraged my students to attend, promising them an amazing time. Luckily, Jen was able to keep my promise.

I was struck immediately by Jen’s energy. She is welcoming and warm and funny. All of this was on display during her talk.

She warned the audience that they would be writing a little bit–she is a writing workshop leader, after all. Thus, after about 35 minutes of talking, she had us freewrite for five minutes, with the prompt to describe “a first time.”

I was pleased with the product of my efforts, and thus found myself tempted to read when she asked for volunteers. Of course, I had many students in the room, and it struck me that they probably don’t want to think of me as capable of writing like that. On the other hand, them having to read in front of me would likely have been absolutely mortifying. Thus, I put myself out there.

My students do not seem to have been harmed. In fact, they have reported loving Jen’s talk. One student and I talked about how — for lack of a better word — awake we were when it was over. That student also said that Jen’s talk was the most fun she’d had for months.

For those wanting to see it, it’s streaming now on our page: http://writing.ucdavis.edu/speakerseries

I read at minute 40.

Let it wake you up.

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London, part 2 (Dr Who)
Nov 17th, 2011 by Dr Karma

After staying up way to late with Chaz and Carmen, I woke up so I could meet Courtney to go to the Dr Who Experience! Courtney was hoping there would be some little kids to watch, and there were. We entered a gallery and then moved to the experience–we got to stand in a moving tardis, we got to walk through a valley of Stone Angels, we got to be attacked by giant Daleks, and we got to be called “shoppers” by Matt Smith. As one of the young boys said, it was “sick!” Then there was the museum, with costumes, etc. There was a creepy wax Matt Smith, models of villains so you could see how they’d changed over the decades, etc. Need to get the rest of the pictures from Courtney, but here are the best ones from my camera (more on FB soon). Hit the gift shop, spent too much, even though they didn’t have postcards (is that because it’s impossible to send mail from a Tardis?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London–the first days
Nov 15th, 2011 by Dr Karma

Drove myself nearly mad trying to get ready for the London/Spain conferences. Those of you aware of my work load this term know that the week before I left was the busiest, not even counting the packing and the prepping for other lovely people to take my courses when I was away.

It was with some relief, then, that I found myself boarding the plane to London. I read Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett to get myself in the mood. Found myself behind two Brits in line–the man was complaining about some salty cheese–and I knew I was going home.

The flight was delayed, so we got in later than expected. I then had to make my way through customs (what is your conference on? Vampires?! Is this some kind of literature thing?) & to Chaz and Carmen’s. Carmen was kind enough to make me a cup of tea. I was able to instantly agree with Chaz’s assessment that I would love her. We share a lot of the same interests and she’s extremely intelligent, articulate, and beautiful. (My ex has excellent taste in women!)

Then I was off to a fancy champagne bar to meet Courtney and Liam. We had a rose and some very nice tapas while catching up. Then we headed to Soho for more wine and pizza. I made it home relatively early, but stayed up with C and C until midnight–we had to catch up too. I was also able to have my first mince pie with cream–I have to say that I I’m sold.

The next morning, I was off to the conference. Most of the papers were on Trueblood and Twilight. One other paper was on Fledgling, but it was the day before, so I didn’t get to see it. The arm of the University of London where the conference was was in my old neighborhood–Bloomsbury. Thus, I knew precisely where the Nando’s was & headed there for lunch. (Ah, peri peri chicken.) Then I had my paper, which I think could have been stronger, but a woman came up after and asked another presenter and I to submit papers for a collection she’s putting together, so it couldn’t have sucked too badly.

I then ran into the British Museum to say hello to old friends (statues mainly). Hit the gift shop for some presents for the boy, then off to meet Afzal for dinner. I had a decent venison ravioli (deer is in season there), and then we headed off to the theatre. Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy. They are both brilliant performers. Redgrave’s Southern accent only slipped on a couple of words. The staging was beautiful–simple, but effective. I really wasn’t expecting to moved by the play–I know the movie well and wrote a paper on the play a long time ago when I was an undergraduate. Still, I teared up at two moments (even though I could recite the lines).

We hit a Snog Yogurt (snog means kiss) in Soho and then I headed home. I beat Chaz there, so Carmen and I opened some wine and talked. We had to open another bottle when Chaz came home and ended up talking until three in the morning. A heavy rain reminded me I was in London as it hit the sloped windows of my attic room.

More to come . . .

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