Ain’t No Trust

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The official name of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act makes the legislators’ motivations very clear: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. On signing it, President Clinton fulfilled his campaign pledge to “end welfare as we know it.” Clearly fronting personal responsibility and work, the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 came right as the country’s economy was entering an unprecedented boom. The dot.com bubble was in its most expansive stage, with employment tight and wages rising. The “new economy” offered a bright horizon as Internet entrepreneurs would transform the economy and lift all boats on a turbulent but exciting sea.

The intent and the rhetoric surrounding the 1996 Welfare Reform Act was consistent with an American tradition of individualism. Looking at low-income individuals from this perspective, they simply lacked either the motivation or the personal characteristics necessary to thrive in our economy. The plan was to establish a program of carrots and sticks to encourage changes in personal behavior.

Judith Levine brings a different perspective to this debate in her new book Ain’t No Trust: How Bosses, Boyfriends and Bureaucrats Fail Low-Income Mothers and Why It Matters (University of California Press, 2013). Consistent with an alternative tradition that “no man [or woman] is an island, she is interested in social factors that influence personal behaviors, in this case trust and distrust. Looking at two different cohorts of interviews with low-income women in the Chicago area, one before and one after the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, she studied how trust and distrust emerge and shape low-income mothers approach and response to life events. She feels that this is a perspective lacking from the 1996 Act.

I spoke to Judith Levine on February 20, 2014.

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—Fred Rowland

The Digital Rights Movement

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Hector Postigo is the author of The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright, in which he presents three case studies of a broad group of loosely knit organizations and individuals that address issues concerning fair use, free speech, privacy, and innovation in the digital environment. None of these concerns are new but the digital medium has changed the social, legal, and economic configuration in which the stakeholders operate. Users are no longer simply passive receivers of content but producers as well. Anyone with a computer can generate new and original online content, or can reuse and remix content in creative ways. This is a real watershed for creation and innovation and the digital rights movement is motivated by a vision of culture as shared and participatory. Expanded conceptions of fair use and free speech are essential to facilitate this vision. Individuals, organizations, and businesses that “own” content through government-granted copyrights have an interest in maintaining control in their works, for commercial and other reasons. The lines dividing users, creators, and content owners are very fluid, so much of this story is about the evolution of legal rules – government regulation – with regards to copyright and digital technology.

By looking at three different cases in which the nascent digital rights movement struggled with the owners and producers of technology and commercial media over the meaning of fair use, free speech, and cultural production, Hector Postigo provides a unique perspective on the profound changes that digital technology has set in motion for cultures, economies, and polities.

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—Fred Rowland

Box Score: An Autobiography

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Introducin’ Kevine Varrone, baseball bardster over iTunes way   five and a quarter ounces avoirdupois   leaving his ancestral home: Goodin, Strawberry, Casey Stengall       amazing  a walk is as good as a hit    we used to say   that’ll be a rope in the boxscore   Pete Gray Nanticoke brief bloom back to cobblestone streets   city of hills & stars & sky & all of it falling or held in the firmament somewhere beyond the outfield fence  Center City rises up as the light fades waiting, sea gulls, plastic bags   the eephus turns instinct on its ear (1-3) a country life & estate Penn wrote to his wife   Sacrificing, converting, teaching, mixing, blending, bleeding   it seems odd don’t you think that we run the bases clockwise & inconceivable to do so   my sister is a Red Sox fan  a glove should feel like an extension of yr hand   my dad used to say    an experimental poet, everyone reads even the kids   Bill Lee, Mark Fidrych, Harry O’Neill  rewriting history is is pretty much what baseball is all about   in 1964 the mets began playing at shea stadium   walking through the Italian Market Paul stunned it was light   in 1945 a throw by athletics outfielder hal peck hit a pigeon flying over fenway park   does my sister know this, how could she   our world is just a hanging curveball   bill lee sd   the eephus is a quaker pitch   read, listen, extras, subplots edgar alllan poe   in most reckonings the world begins in thinking   & action is a derivative miracle   Kevin Varrone made history when he spoke to Fred Rowland   & then god said when did it become night

[bolded italics by Kevin Varrone, plain print by Fred Rowland]

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—Fred Rowland

 

Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

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Maia Cucchiara’s new book, Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities (University of Chicago Press, 2013), is a very timely intervention into the current debate about the troubled Philadelphia public school system. Most of the research for this book took place between 2004 and 2007 as part of her doctoral dissertation during the Philadelphia Center City Schools Initiative (CCSI), which sought to market and promote Center City public schools in an effort to retain middle and upper middle class Center City families from fleeing to the suburbs in search of better schools. She shines a light on this initiative by focusing on one school and one neighborhood, which she pseudonymously names “Grant Elementary School” and “Cobble Square”. In the course of her research, she interviewed parents, administrators, teachers, and local civic and business leaders, as well as participated in many events at Grant Elementary School.

One of the most important and illuminating aspects of Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities is the way it highlights the tensions between an urban area’s economic and civic space as citizens are increasingly seen as customers and consumers. What rights and duties do we have as citizens and how are those rights and duties constrained or enhanced when they are interpreted from a narrow economic perspective? On the one hand, retaining Center City families grows the tax base and potentially benefits all Philadelphia schools, given that schools are financed primarily through real estate taxes. On the other hand, how does one justify directing additional resources to Center City schools at a time when there are so many disadvantaged schools in the outlying neighborhoods? The tensions that Maia Cucchiara investigates in Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities are still very much with us today and make this book a “must read” for anyone interested in Philadelphia public schools and the future of public education.

I spoke with Maia Cucchiara on September 19, 2013.

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—Fred Rowland

 

 

 

Kathleen Fitzpatrick on scholarly communication & the digital humanities

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Kathleen Fitzpatrick is the Director of Scholarly Communications at the Modern Language Association and a visiting faculty member in the English Department at New York University. She has published two books, The Anxiety of Influence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006), which analyzed the anxiety and vested interests surrounding the purported demise of literature, and Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (New York University Press, 2011), a fascinating and incisive look at the future of publishing and scholarship in the academy. She has a blog, also titled Planned Obsolescence, and she is a co-founder of MediaCommons, “a community network for scholars, students, and practitioners in media studies, promoting exploration of new forms of publishing…”

Kathleen Fitzpatrick gave a lecture at the Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT) on March 7, 2013, entitled “The Humanities in and for the Digital Age.” Before her talk, she kindly stopped by my office to discuss her work in scholarly communication and the digital humanities.

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—Fred Rowland

Open Access Journals and Textbooks

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Colleges and universities face major financial challenges as state and federal funding levels fall and few new revenue sources can adequately fill the gap.  Tuition has already been raised to unsustainable levels, as aggregate student debt recently reached $1 trillion. Higher educational institutions are seeking to be more “entrepreneurial” in order to generate new revenues, but this is a rather slow process in most cases. These issues were pressing even before the housing meltdown in 2008. Now they are urgent.

With this context in mind, the Temple University Libraries are interested in exploring ways that the Internet can be used to reconceptualize and reconfigure how research and educational materials are delivered. If successful, this might both improve research and educational performance at the same time that costs are lowered. As part of the sixth annual Open Access Week (Oct. 22 – Oct. 28, 2012), the Temple University Libraries invited Nick Shockey, director of student advocacy for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and manager of the Right to Research Coalition, and Nicole Allen, director of Student PIRG’s Make Textbooks Affordable campaign, to discuss “The Connection between Open Access and Open Educational Resources: Exploring New Publishing Models.”

Before they’re presentation, they sat down to speak with me about open access journals and open educational resources.

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 —Fred Rowland

 

 

Talk Radio Host Rob Redding

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Rob Redding is the talk show host of the Redding News Review, a syndicated radio program heard Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the Genesis Communications Network (GCN). On Sundays his program airs between 7 and 10 p.m. on GCN, SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 128, and other affiliate radio stations. He also maintains the Redding News Review news web site. He has appeared on Fox News, NPR, and CSpan.

On February 1, he visited Temple University to discuss the presidential elections and his new book Where’s the Change?: Why Neither Obama, nor the GOP Can Solve America’s Problems. Before he spoke in Anderson Hall, he stopped by Paley Library for an interview.

—Fred Rowland

 

Out of Left Field: The Interview

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Professor Rebecca Alpert has had a longstanding interest in baseball since she began following the Brooklyn Dodgers in her youth. As a professor of religion, she has written on topics of modern Judaism and Jewish studies, and on the role of gender and sexuality in religion. When she learned of prominent Jewish booking agents in the Negro Leagues of the 1930s and 1940s, she was able to combine her interests in Jewish studies and baseball. The result is her new book Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. On February 15, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Alpert on her new book.

—Fred Rowland

 

Sustaining Scholarly Publishing

In September, I sat down with the director of the Temple University Press Alex Holzman to speak about an AAUP report entitled “Sustaining Scholarly Publishing”, which he helped to organize during his tenure as president of the American Association of University Presses (AAUP). The 2011 report tries to make sense of recent changes in scholarly publishing. Though increasingly fractured by the proliferation of business models, the current publishing environment also provides excellent opportunities for future scholarship.

[The report is available from two different sources.]

The interview with Alex Holzman provides an excellent overview of the Temple University Press as well as the contemporary business, economic and academic environment in which university presses operate. Although we use the report as a touchstone for our conversation, there a lot of details included in the report that we do not cover. I strongly recommend taking the time to read the comprehensive and clearly written report.

Listen to the audio of Part I

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Listen to the audio of Part II

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—Fred Rowland

Library Prize: eligibility expanded

The eighth annual Library Prize for Undergraduate Research and the second annual Library Prize for Undergraduate on Sustainability & the Environment will be held in the Spring 2012 semester. The purpose of the prize is to encourage the use of the Libraries’ resources and to highlight the best research among Temple undergraduates. This year’s prize submission deadline is Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 5 pm.

This year the eligibility requirements have changed to include students participating in the McNair Scholars Program, The Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship (CARAS) Program, and students who finish their coursework in December 2011 and graduate in January. Below are the complete eligibility requirements.

To be eligible to win the 2012 Prize, applicants must:

  • be Temple undergraduates at any class level and in any discipline, and be enrolled, i.e. taking a class or classes, in the Spring 2012 semester or having completed all undergraduate coursework during the Fall 2011 semester (i.e. graduating in January 2012).

  • have completed their research project for a credit course at Temple during the Spring 2011, Summer 2011, Fall 2011, or Spring 2012 semesters, or began The Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in the Summer of 2011 or received funding for The Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship (CARAS) Program during the Spring or Fall of 2011.

  • agree to contribute to a display about their research in theLibrary during the year following receipt of the Sustainability Prize

  • agree that all winning prize materials will become permanent property of the University Archives and may be displayed on the Library’s website

  • agree to attend the Library Prize Awards Ceremony during the week of April 30 to May 4, 2012.  (You need to attend the Awards Ceremony in order to win the Library Prize.)

We look forward to another great year for the Library Prize. If you have any questions about the new eligibility requirements, or any other questions, please email the libprize@temple.edu