Well, friends: we’re in the midst of a butt-chapping deep freeze, thanks to an Alberta Clipper that just won’t quit. It’s -15 degrees Fahrenheit here in Potterville, and won’t get above freezing until sometime this weekend. Those of you in the East might be enjoying a snow day today, so here are a few tidbits to warm you up and get your engines running this morning:
- Chris Hedges asks, “Are Liberals Pathetic?” (h/t Susie at Suburban Guerrilla.) He writes that their “sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.” He then goes on to contrast elite, sheltered liberals with working class men who “knew precisely what to do with people who abused them. They may not have been liberal, they may not have finished high school, but they were far more grounded than most of those I studied with.” What do you think? I think he’s onto something, but he also engages in a romanticization of a partcular kind of working-class masculinity that equates “fighting” with manhood only, and by implication slights the liberal coalition of today which is based on feminists and gays. Can we get away from these gendered tropes for criticizing the left? (Hedges himself identifies the intersection of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue that’s really to blame for Dem reluctance or even refusal to attempt real change.)
- Hedges’ essay reminded me of an interesting piece by Joe Bageant on the absence of compassion among so-called “progressives” called “Shoot the Fat Guys, Hang the Smokers.” I worry about this–it’s part of what I was trying to get at last year in most of my posts on Sarah Palin. Laughing at or condescending to people isn’t a winning strategy. Smugness will be the death of the left.
- Clio Bluestocking brings us more tales from the Orwellian world of online teaching at her school–or, as Hacky McHackhack, the overpaid consultant puts it, “delivering education.” Clio patiently explains why this description of their work will chap the a$$es of most teachers and professors: It “suggests that we give the students the ‘education’ in a brown box and say ‘sign here, I will stamp your name as having received the education, and you can pick up your degree.’ . . . ‘Delivery’ suggests passivity, ‘education’ suggests action. If you do not see the difference, perhaps you should go evaluate your EdD-granting institution — you know, run an outcomes assessment on them — to see if they actually have any idea what ‘education’ means.” And, the story only gets worse from there, when McHackhack comes up with a fabulous plan that would turn all professors into T.A.’s! Awesome! But, you’re not surprised, are you? That’s what on-line courses are for! Excellence without money for traditional disciplines, because now we have to fund “departments” of “online learning.”
You know, friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that those of us who teach in departments and disciplines that have been around for more than 20 years are doomed. There’s no advantage for ladder-climbing university administrators in giving money to History, English, Anthropology, Political Science, or Foreign Languages departments so that they can hire more tenure-track faculty, give them adequate funds to support their research, and keep their faculty:student ratios low enough to improve the quality of teaching. Borrrr-iinnnggg!!! No–every administrator wants hir own Department of Shiny Distraction, or Center for Teaching Illusions, because it’s only starting a new department or center that will look good on a C.V. when they apply for their next Dean or Associate Provost position.
Well, it’s still super-duper cold here, and I better get some more clothes on, don’tchathink?