Archive for the 'wankers' Category

May 8th 2013
Worst teachers ever.

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & fluff & Gender & jobs & students & wankers & weirdness

Trying to avoid grading final exams? Slate offers a diversion with a feature called “What’s the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?”

The Slate writers had some pretty funny stories, usually involving teachers who were irritated about being corrected by their students, but the stories in the comments below are funnier. Check out the story of the kid who tried–and failed!–to convince his high school honors English teacher that Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote takes place in Spain instead of the Netherlands. (Because windmills–duh!) And the stories about not understanding a teacher’s thick Southern or New England accent are pretty funny too: what would you do if you were asked to lead your class “down yonder hill,” or if instructed to draw a picture of that cozy autumn ritual we know as a “barn fire?”

The worst thing I can remember was probably said by a student teacher in his late 20s Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

May 6th 2013
Monday round-up: endless semester edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & wankers & women's history

You’ve heard of The Endless Summer?  It sure seems to me like this is the Endless Semester.  Maybe it’s all of the snow and slush in April, but more than any other spring semester in recent memory, this one drags on and on.  While I’m desperately trying to lasso this semester and tie it up real good, here are some fun links and ideas to keep you diverted:

17 Comments »

May 4th 2013
Just another occasion to feel entirely alienated from American culture and values

Posted under American history & class & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Baa Ram U. announced that tuition next year will increase by 9%, making the cost of one year at my university for Colorado residents the princely sum of $7,494.  Unfortunately, the Denver Post buried the lede in the final paragraph, in which the uni’s president notes that “‘If you’re the one writing the check for that $619 increase, that’s what you see, that you’re being forced to pay more money,’ [Tony] Frank said of [the tuition] hike. “That’s not abstract — but what people don’t see is how less of your taxes are being used to buy down the cost of that education.’”

No $hit, Fred.  And yet, we’re still treated to blathering by people–most of whose college degrees have at least 25 years’ worth of dust on them–who want the American people to question the value of a college education.  Moreover, these are in many cases the exact same people who have championed the disinvestment in higher education that started more than thirty years ago.

Interestingly enough, in the very same newspaper in which I read of this tuition increase, I learned from Ask Amy that the average price of a wedding in the United States is now $30,000.  If that number is anywhere near true, then I call bull$hit not just on the Bill Bennett’s of the world, but on the spending priorities of the American people.  Continue Reading »

43 Comments »

March 18th 2013
Being wrong & never paying the price: a Washington journalist testifies on the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers

On the day before the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, John Judis has an interesting reflection on “What it Was Like to Oppose the Iraq War in 2003.”  He reviews the crazy consensus among “serious” thinkers (even of the so-called “liberal” sort) about the righteousness of the Bush administration’s obvious hard-on to take out Saddam:

In December of 2002, I was invited by the Ethics and Public Policy Center to a ritzy conference at an ocean front resort in Key West. The subject was to be Political Islam, and many of the best-known political journalists from Washington and New York were there. The conversation invariably got around to Iraq, and I found myself one of the few attendees who outright opposed an invasion. Two of the speakers at the event—Christopher Hitchens, who was then writing for Slate, and Jeffrey Goldberg, who was then writing for The New Yorker—generously offered to school me on the errors of my way.

More interesting to me was something Judis writes in the second paragraph in his article:

[W]ithin political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded foes [of the plan to invade]. When The New Republic’s editor-in-chief and editor proclaimed the need for a “muscular” foreign policy, I was usually the only vocal dissenter, and the only people who agreed with me were the women on staff: Michelle Cottle, Laura Obolensky and Sarah Wildman. Both of the major national dailies—The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting)—were beating the drums for war. Except for Jessica Mathews at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington’s thinktank honchos were also lined up behind the war.

I wish he had paused to reflect on the obviously gendered language he uses here, as well as the clear gender divide he recounts here in pro- versus anti-invasion journalist and think-tank opinions (Judith Miller excepted).  Continue Reading »

22 Comments »

March 15th 2013
Rob Portman is still a Pharisee. In other news: Spring Break!

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & happy endings & nepotism & wankers

I’ve been thinking about marriage today–gay, straight, what have you.  Fratguy and I have been in a civil union for 15 years.  I think that’s the right term, as we were “married” by a notary (you can do that in Maine), but because we’re an opposite-sex couple, everyone calls us “married,” although neither of us wanted to darken the door of any church in the service of enacting our civil union.

But you get used to this kind of thing when you’re in a straight union–a lot of the time you benefit from other people’s assumptions about you.  It means (for example) that you don’t have to carry around your marriage license as proof of your legal relationship.  The words “husband” and “wife” really are magic in that respect–I’ve never been asked to prove it.  My husband’s agreement about our status suffices.

Sometimes those assumptions are annoying–such as when other people lay their trip about what marriage is on you, and judge your marriage by their standards, not yours.  (These assumptions are almost always about the behavior of women in marriages, not the men they’re married to.  Men usually benefit from the assumptions people make about them as married men, even if those assumptions are totally wrong.)

In any case, this is all just a windup to direct you to go read Madwoman with a Laptop‘s thoughts on her 29 years with the woman whose wife she will never be, along with a really thoughtful analysis of civil unions, gay marriage, and her very intentional rejection of marriage and wifedom although her state now permits same-sex marriage.  Continue Reading »

15 Comments »

March 6th 2013
Suck on this!

Posted under American history & bad language & class & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

What I learned from Thomas Friedman this morning in the New York Times:

  • No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
  • College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
  • Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.

I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures!  To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

March 3rd 2013
Jonah Lehrer: a weird old trick that melts belly fat and makes 54-year old mom look 27!

Posted under American history & Gender & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Modern publishing: just a sausage party.

From the “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” file:

Two weeks after disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer publicly apologized for the “frailties” and “weaknesses” that lead to his firing from The New Yorker and withdrawal of his bestselling book Imagine, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), publisher of all three of Lehrer’s books, has decided it will no longer offer for sale his second book, How We Decide. After an internal review uncovered significant problems with the book, the publisher is “taking How We Decide off-sale” and has “no plans to reissue it in the future,” HMH senior vice president Bruce Nichols said in an email.

HMH, who pulled Imagine from shelves in July and offered refunds to those who had purchased the book, will “shortly alert accounts about How We Decide and offer to refund returns” from customers, Nichols said. He also noted that the company’s review of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Lehrer’s first book, did not uncover any problems and that it “will remain in print.”

Nichols didn’t reveal the specifics of HMH’s findings, but shortly after the company withdrew Imagine I privately provided them with a handful of problematic passages, gleaned from a cursory look at How We Decide.

HA-hahahahahaha!  The author of this article, Michael Moynihan, goes on to reveal that his “cursory look” at How We Decide probably involved no more than a simple Google search of Lehrer’s prose and a look at Wikipedia.  That’s right:  the world’s most obvious undergraduate-style plagiarist was getting paid to write for The New Yorker and publishing books with HMH.  Most of you professor types probably would have found him out a lot sooner if he were trying to pass his stuff off on you than his editors or readers did. Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

February 25th 2013
Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday.  It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter.  I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.

It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night.  I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines:  “this isn’t a wine for drinking!  It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.”  (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.)  In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:

Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

February 24th 2013
Confirmation of the bloody obvious

Posted under American history & class & jobs & race & students & wankers

From the “No $hit, Fred,” files: Some Groups May Not Benefit From Online Education, via Inside Higher Ed:

Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from — and may in fact be hurt by — digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College suggest.

“Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas,” by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, researchers at the center, examines the performance of nearly 40,000 Washington State community college students who took both online and on-ground courses, and finds significant differences in how various subgroups performed. Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes[.  M]en, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.

I’ve written here before about my skepticism that the MOOC and online “revolution” is being led by people affiliated with highly selective private universities, when after all they’re producing a product that’s intended for the state uni and community college crowd.  Here’s why  it’s important to talk to faculty who teach first generation students, working-class returning students, nonwhite students, and students who are financing their own educations through heavy student loan borrowing:  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

February 19th 2013
It’s only February, but I think we have the mansplanation of the year already.

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers

Courtesy of one D. M. Horn, whose a$$hattery is on full display in his attempt to explain why the term “feminist” is in fact itself a sexist term.

O.M.G.  Yeah:  there’s no relevant history or intellectual tradition you need to learn about before you generously share your expert opinion with us.

Dude, you should have just let your sister do the talkingContinue Reading »

16 Comments »

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