In AlJazeera English, Sarah Kendzior writes about a $22,000 internship at the U.N. No, they aren't paying interns $22,000. The intern pays the U.N. $22,000 to “gain inside knowledge of just how the UN really operates.”
Pacific-Standard reports on a study that examined economists' desire to publish in highly prestigious journals. No academic journal pays its authors for their work, but there is a pecking order among these journals for prestige. They sent a questionnaire to fellow economists and asked them, " If a medicine existed that would give them a day-long surge in brainpower—enough to formulate an article good enough for one of four major journals—would they take it? If so, would they still do so if they knew it would slightly reduce their lifespan?"
Yes, economists would shorten their lifespans, if they would be guaranteed an article in a top-tier journal. They would be willing to shorten their lifespans by nearly a year for that money-less honor. Of course, there are indirect monetary benefits from publishing in a prestigious journal. You can bumped up the academic payscale with a promotion, but the types of people who get published in those journals are already at the top of the pay scale and have tenure.
I have not necessarily made the best career decisions over my lifetime. I always seem to lean towards jobs that provide prestige and not so much money. With all my career fluctuations, I'm stuck in the "paying dues" job phase and never made it to the "gravy train" phase. So, I understand the need for low paying, prestigious work, but I'm trying very hard to be more rational about my work efforts.
Some of these unpaid internships and honorific jobs are a result of the crappy economy. Post-college kids need to get something on their resume, other than their summer job at Wendy's. But the economists in the Pacific-Standard story aren't suffering like that. Where's the rational actor in all this?
David Remnick's final paragraph about the Tsarnaev brothers is perfect.
The Tsarnaev family had been battered by history before—by empire and the strife of displacement, by exile and emigration. Asylum in a bright new land proved little comfort. When Anzor fell sick, a few years ago, he resolved to return to the Caucasus; he could not imagine dying in America. He had travelled halfway around the world from the harrowed land of his ancestors, but something had drawn him back. The American dream wasn’t for everyone. What they could not anticipate was the abysmal fate of their sons, lives destroyed in a terror of their own making. The digital era allows no asylum from extremism, let alone from the toxic combination of high-minded zealotry and the curdled disappointments of young men. A decade in America already, I want out.
I also loved Julia Ioffe's article in the New Republic.
Tellingly, Tamerlan also says he has no American friends. It is a statement that the media jumped on, but the second half of that statement is the more illuminating one: “I don’t understand them.” This is not surprising. I moved to America from Russia when I was 7, spent my entire conscious life and education here, am fully assimilated and consider myself American, and I often don’t understand Americans. It’s no wonder that Tamerlan couldn’t make sense of them either. Based on what’s known of when the Tsarnaevs came to the U.S., he was either 15 or 17. Immigration is hard at any age, but it is especially difficult when you are a teenager, when your mind and body is changing and you are struggling to come to grips with who you are. For Tamerlan, national identity was thrown into the heady mix, and he seems to have stuck with the one he knew his whole life: Muslim Chechen. The fact that history has made that definition an uneasy one cannot be irrelevant.
Like just about every news junkie, I watched hours and hours of cable news on Friday, while simultaneously on Twitter with my iPad in my lap. You would think that with all that news consumption, I would have a great blog post in me. But no. The events in Boston seem too random to make a broad political conclusion or to point to a clear cut policy remedy.
Of course, that isn't stopping people from trying to jam their pet projects into this square peg event. The pro-gun people think that terrorists would be scared off, if we were all packing weapons. The anti-immigration people think that this is an excellent opportunity to keep immigrants out. Even Dr. Ruth was on Twiter advising us to take advantage of the lockdown by "locking down" with our partners. As a policy entrepreneur, every event is an opportunity to talk about your policy.
Some pundits are talking about the use of Miranda warnings with terrorists, and the pros and cons of shutting down a city to catch a baddie. Interesting discussions, but not game-changers.
There was some amusing wingnut discussions this weekend. One guy on my Facebook page is sure that the lockdown is the first stage of a fascist state. They are softening us up for the future police state. Say good-bye to your freedoms and your guns, folks!
So, all this is very disappointing for the blogger. I'm going to have to write about Reese Witherspoon's arrest or something.
Turn on the TV or the radio. Follow me on Twitter. I'll be RT-ing the best info.
UPDATE: I've been glued to cable news shows and twitter all day. There's really nothing good to say yet. Like Tyler, I don't think we could have predicted this outcome, and we probably have no idea what's going to happen next. And like Tyler, I also think this doesn't bode well for immigration reform.
UPDATE2: In the comments, af writes:
I am getting worried about what is going on in Boston - the kind of precedent it is setting for what we're willing to do in the case of a terrorist attack. It may be that the police are closer than it seems to tracking down the suspect (and I hope to God he's the actual criminal), but shutting down an entire, enormous city, keeping people in their homes, SWAT teams all over, preventing (from what I heard) news teams from getting access, as a means of finding one person, seems crazy. How long will this continue? What if it doesn't work?
I've also thought about this in terms of what we prioritize. Yes, this was a horrible, devastating event, and certainly qualifies as a terrorist attack based on everything I've heard. We have to make sure people do not expect to escape capture and persecution when they do these things. But according to Andrew Sullivan, "On an average day in America, 85 people are shot dead. There are now five dead in Boston, including one of the suspected bombers – over the course of five days." How much other crime - not just deaths but everything else - is going uninvestigated and unpunished in Boston this week?
This has to be the top priority, absolutely, but I'm worried.
The news media is trying veeerrry, veeerrry hard not to be assholes about Boston, but it's hard because they don't have any fresh meat. No suspects yet, just some vague film footage of a "dark skinned" dude. That's a lot of air time to replay the same facts over and over again. Lots of time to stick foot in mouth.
There has been some borderline assholic behavior. The news media showed that a grizzly picture of a guy getting wheeled down the block. His legs are gone. Just some stringy veins hanging down from his knee cap. I could have gone my whole life without knowing what a leg-less knee cap looks like.
The boardline questionable behavior is that they showed the guy's face, and immediately posted the picture. So, that's how the guy's dad found out that his son had been injured.
News media aside, there was some honorable behavior that deserves a shout out. When the bomb went off, people ran away. That's cool. That's the normal, human response to a big explosion and shrapnel and blood. But then a few people ran towards a blast and pulled back fencing and knelt on the ground with the injured. That's amazing. Read about the hero in the cowboy hat. Love this guy.
More at the American Prospect, "The Trouble with Scoops."
This weekend, Twitter was on fire about the Gosnell case. First, Kristen Powers complained about the lack of media coverage of the Gosnell in USA Today. But I think Conor Friedersdorf really lit the fuse by writing at the Atlantic that it was shameful that the mainstream media was ignoring the Gosnell case. That article has 133,000 likes on Facebook, which gives some indication of the amount of traffic that the article generated. David Weigel followed up on Slate. On Twitter, there was heavy debate going on between Mollie Z. Hemingway, Elizabeth Scalia, Katha Politt, and just about everybody.
I read about Kermit Gosnell and his Jeffrey Dahmer-like abortion clinic a couple of years ago. I can't remember where I read about the details of the case. I read pretty broadly, so it could have been in either the liberal or conservative press. I haven't read anything recently, but I haven't searched for details either. It's such a gross story that one or two articles were enough for me. The guy was clearly a psychopath who deserves a life sentence at a maximum security prison.
So, why haven't we read more about the Gosnell case? Was it a conspiracy by liberal media to cover up an inconvenient story that would undermine abortion rights? That was the claim of media critics this weekend.
I've been on the fringes of the media world for the past year. The super young, earnest news editors (is every digital news editor under 30?) don't seem to be strongly motivated by a particular political ideology. They primarily want to bring in the traffic. Their jobs depend on articles that gather the links on Twitter and Facebook. Whatever it takes.
If anything there is a slight youth bias in the media, because of the age of the editors. They love articles that deal with 20-something issues, like urban life, college loans, and dating.
But nobody quite knows the formula for bringing in the audience. There are tricks in crafting headlines that can boost numbers. There are certain topics that always seem to be winners. But it's more guess-work than science. That's why so many online magazines cover their bets by including columnists from the right and the left and why there is just so much content produced today. They hope that by producing lots of words from lots of different viewpoints something will stick, and traffic will flow in, and they'll be able to keep their operation afloat for another year.
The media did run stories about Gosnell case in 2011, but it probably didn't lead to much traffic, because the details were just too gross. There also was no evidence that it was a nation-wide phenomenon.
It's interesting that this case came back to the front pages not because of Gosnell himself. This weekend's twitter and op-ed storm was about media bias. That's the topic that brings the traffic.
A number of people that I respect do believe that there is an anti-Catholic, pro-choice bias in the press. That might be true, but in the case, I think that the lack of coverage of Gosnell in 2012 was simply about traffic patterns.
We've had some tense discussions about adjuncts this week. Personally, I was devastated to learn that my PhD and years of experience were only worth about $3 an hour on the local market. I want to broaden the discussion. The move towards hiring temp workers is bigger than just academia.
Steve was downsized from his permanent position at a Wall Street firm last fall, along with thousands of other workers. At some point, I'll talk about that stressful period of time, but not yet.
Now, he works for a very, pleasant firm in Connecticut. The commute is about the same, but now he drives for an hour, instead of taking the bus. (One car accident, so far. Ugh.) It's a much less intense workplace, so he's not walking around with bucket-loads of tension all the time. He's also a consultant, rather than a permanent employee.
For the most part, that's fine. The weekly paycheck is about the same as he made before. Even though it's not a permanent position, it's about as permanent as any job is these days. The only downside with this arrangement is the benefits. We're researching health insurance right now. Apparently, if you incorporate yourself, you can get access to cheaper health care programs. There aren't paid vacation days. We have to figure out our own 401K program.
So, from our perspective, there are pros and cons. From the business perspective, there are only pros with the move towards hiring consultants over permanent employees. In the banking industry, there are so many unemployed workers, they can easily find people to take benefit-less jobs. I'm also hearing anecdotal stories about this movement from friends in law and publishing.
Are consultants and freelancers and adjuncts the wave of the future?