Saturday, March 31, 2012

Flying Drive By

I am on the way to San Diego today for the International Studies Meeting, so again  iwill just post a few quick reactions/thoughts here unless my planes have wifi.

  • People have asked why would I leave dynamic Montreal for "boring" Ottawa, and others suggested that I buy a house in less expensive Gatineau, which is in Quebec just across the river from Ottawa.  Well, today's Gazette reminds me of some of the reasons why this move was an easy decision even if Ottawa and Ontario are not utopias:
    • The big story is that the city lost a heap of money hosting swimming championships, and the Mayor's excuse is: we didn't pay that much attention.  Wow.  You spend heaps of effort to attract major sporting event, but not so much on implementation.  Lovely.
    • The provincial Liberals are being the pandering cowards that we have come to know and not love: the attrition strategy to reduce the incredibly large Quebec civil service is being waived for one department: the folks responsible for policing the use of French in Quebec. Or more accurately, policing the use of English.  So, about 70 new jobs for this office--about a 28% increase in jobs for this office while other stuff is still getting slashed.  Because this office is more important?  
    • Pierre Curzi, formerly of the PQ, tabled his proposals for protecting French via providing less public service bilingually.  This goes along with the recent controversy in Huntington where the Mayor sought to provide services in French and English since 40% plus of his constituents are Anglophones.
    • I have never felt any real hostility due to my linguistic limitations in Quebec, but the politics here does a nice job of making me feel as if I don't belong.  I do fear for Quebec's future--that the PQ will come back into power at some point and may be pushed by their more radical members to do stupid things.  The Liberals have shown that they do not really care about their Anglophone voters, so their being in power is not so swell either.  
  • I experienced something new this morning: a request from a journal to review an article with a specific mention that a major figure in the field recommended me for the review.  This tactic of playing to my vanity may have worked.  I was going to say no as I am quite busy, but now I am not so sure.  Am I so easily played?  Probably.  That and the deadline is two more weeks  than the current trend of 4 weeks (used to be 2-3 months).
  • I am starting to think about putting a word limit on the papers I will read as a discussant for conferences.  18,000 words seems a bit much for a conference paper.  Such papers are usually considered to be first drafts for journal article submissions, and no journal I know of publishes articles that long.  Usually the max is 8,000 to 12,000 words.  Such folks will find that the iron law of undergrad reading applies here--the more one is asked to read, the less that gets read.  I hope this is not a trend because a clear ISA trend is to build panels of 5-6 papers when it used to have four.  Yes, people drop, but a panel of five papers is just too much for the discussant and way too much for the audience.  I guess the idea is to max participation and minimize micro-panels after too much defection, but it might be at the expense of the quality of panels.  We shall see how things go this time around.  It is too bad as there are many terrific panels on the program this year, but the thought of enduring six separate presentations is a bit of a deterrent.
Clear skies to all flocking to San Diego and don't forget your sunscreen!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When people ask me what I think of Montreal I simply tell them that I have no patience for it. No patience for being labelled a minority for speaking English, for the bureaucracy, for the politics, for the riots, for the protests or for the squabbles.