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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: June 25, 2004
Latest Update: June 25, 2004

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An exchange that makes sense, sort of, in lived reality:

We think these glimpses of backstage exchange are an important part of the textuality of opening forums to everyone. Yes, backstage is important for getting work done. But those who are excluded actually imagine it to be more mysterious, more authoritative, more secure and "knowing" than it really is. To that end, we are trying to keep this forum transparent.

On June 24, 2004, Susan wrote to jeanne about the Zemsky Report in the Chronicle of Higher Education"

fyi -- what do you think of this?


On June 24, 2004, jeanne wrote back:

I think it's absolutely right. Power Point was where they went.
Stupid. More later. jeanne

Later, on June 24, 2004, susan answered:



p.s. in case you need some "good dogs." good dog, good dog, good dog!

On Friday morning, June 25, 2004, jeanne accepted the "good dogs":

Gee, how did you know I could use a "good dog?" Yesterday my machine told me I had a virus. I struggled and called for help and got none (my tech was busy) and found the symantec manual and read it and shook and used the virus tool and it told me I didn't have a virus, and then I tried my email again and it told me I did, have a virus that is. But I hung in there and the virus seems to have been a mistake, and my tech isn't talking to me, and symantec hates me, and Tut brought a squirrel in the house to play with and he was carrying it like they carry babies by the back of the neck, and we opened every door in the house and it still didn't seem to find its way out and so yesterday afternoon, in the midst of virus, not virus, I lay down a trail of peanuts from each room to an open door and Tut sat quietly by and looked at me inquisitively. This morning I got up early and there was no sign of Tut, so Arnold came down to search. Cleopatra ate; she sure wasn't concerned. And then there sat Tut at the front door, looking first at the little pile of peanuts and then at me, quizzically, wondering I suppose if cats can commit people for observation for 72 hours. Was Thurber's life like this, too? (My Life and Welcome To It) I haven't seen the squirrel, maybe he followed the peanuts out, I hope. Now I can use my email again to send the papers to New Orleans, so I will spend today, putting together all the papers for all those different conferences. Put up some really neat stuff on crim you'll like. And so I'll probably still need "good dogs." Arnold wants a dog, speaking of dogs. This summer! Oy! love and I hope there's still peace somewhere, the red queen, drifting through a horizontal tunnel (I got tired of falling) into a dimension that has no number (well, at least I'm still quoting theory). Maybe I'm slithering off the edge of the blane with gravity, that could explain it all. (that's the new cosmos theory that the universe is flat,like two-dimensional but only gravity can slither off, remember. I'll find the cite when I finish the indexes.) Oyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!

Some definitions:

  • "good dog" - a signifier socially constructed by the Dear Habermas community to indicate support. We socially constructed these signifiers the way you socially construct anything. We laughed when Alfie Kohn told us they were demeaning, and sheepishly admitted we still liked them. We talked about them, bringing them to awareness. They took on special significance when others didn't know what they were about and considered us strange. And they stuck, as you see here. We took the idea that these were signifiers that could be ritually used to reinforce desired behavior from Alfie Kohn's Book on How Rewards Damage Learning; Kohn says that gold stars and A's are bad for us, because they encourage us to work for the reward instead of for the joy of learning. I hate to tell him, but you could probably count on your toes the people who still believe that the joy of learning is supposed to motivate us. But we're dog and cat people. We've trained animals, and we didn't demean them. It's all in the perspective. We like gold stars and catnip toys and doggie biscuits. It's not that we'll really do anything for them, but they sure are nice when you're asking yourself Why Do I Do This? Actually, you see,Michael's poem, Why Do I Do This? was a "good dog" when I was desperately tired of working so hard, and for what.

    We find that "good dogs" and gold stars or whatever are particularly useful when you are living in the reality of a hostile environment opposed to many of the social justice changes you'd like to make. The people who oppose you are usually higher on the food chain; that's why they're opposing you; they don't want to lose their privilege. But even if they control some of the system rewards, like raises and promotions and bonuses and perks to travel and recognition within the system, "good dogs" are a way of signifying support amongst those of us who don't control the system rewards. And they matter to us, because we matter to us. Last year we shared the "good dog" concept with our students. Nothing makes me laugh more than hearing a student call out in the hallway "good dog" with enthusiasm.

    "Good dog" is nonetheless, a label, and like any other pejorative label, it can cause harm. It's use needs to be carefully understood in terms of the social construction of support in an indifferent or hostile system.

  • "gravity slithering off the brane"

    We put up this new two-dimensional vision of the cosmos sometime in the last several months. I don't remember when. Will go link it later. But notice that we play with the theories, all of them. That makes meaningful connections in the apperceptive mass that help us remember them.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.