Posts Tagged ‘rants’

something I don’t understand

All through the campaign for this election, I kept hearing this campaign rhetoric: “I’m not one of those Washington insiders!”

Why is this a selling point? I mean, in the first place, I don’t believe that all politicians are crooked (or even most of them). I think that most politicians are, just like other people, trying to do their jobs. Like anyone else, they have flaws, but most of the time those flaws are irrelevant to their jobs. I don’t care about their sexual partners, their fights with their wives, or any of that. It’s not my business. It’s irrelevant. Most politicians are, in my view, good people. They work hard, they get constant scorn in return, and they live in a perpetual state of uncertainty about their future, as their jobs might disappear during any election, for a variety of reasons (only some of which they can control).

On top of that: isn’t a Washington insider exactly what the savvy voter should want? A politician with no ties in Washington is an ineffective politician. It’s someone who hasn’t built ties and relationships that can lead to better chances of passing legislation; it’s someone who doesn’t know the ropes and has to spend a lot more time learning than working. A “Washington insider” is a veteran politician who has proven himself/herself. We’re not electing anyone who’s botched the job; they don’t even get nominated. So why would we want to deny someone a seat because they are good at their job? (Which is what it amounts to: a good and effective politician is always going to be considered a “Washington insider” because he/she is an integral part of the Congressional or political process.)

It’s like saying you want a new perspective and fresh voice on the law, so you’re going to hire someone who isn’t a lawyer to defend you against a false criminal charge. It makes no sense. You want the best and most educated, most experienced people. The only reason to resist that in the political arena is that you think any person who goes to Washington to work in government will end up corrupt, which is nonsense.


The biggest thing I dislike about teaching…

….is job-hunting every summer.

semi-annual open letter to my students

A few things for you to keep in mind, my lovely students:

1) If you have to miss class because of an urgent family get-together, it is not an excused absence. And if you were sick earlier in the semester, which can be an excused absence, but you never contacted me, provided documentation, nor made up your work, that is also not an excused absence. It is also, if I may use a technical term, not my freaking problem.

2) If your paper is due on, say, Friday, and I receive it on, say, the following Wednesday–yes, I noticed it was late.

3) If your audience–which you must describe, as part of the paper grade–is “pretty much everybody,” you’re doing it wrong.

4) Yes, spelling counts.

5) Yes, grammar counts.

6) No, printing your essay on fancy-schmancy resume-style bond paper is not going to help.

7) No, illustrations, clip art, and colored ink won’t help, either.

8) No, 8-10 pages does not mean 7 pages. It also does not mean 17 pages. It means–shocking, I know–8-10 pages.

9) The fact that you’re this panicky about the final essay means that at least you care how you do in this course….and while, for some of you, it’s a tad late to be worrying about this, I am glad you are concerned about it a little bit. My advice? Come to class for the last two weeks, do the work, and write the best essay you can. My other advice: do not spend your precious last-minute time trying to get notes from your friend via Facebook because you are too busy sunning yourself like a lizard on the quad. Or because you are hung over or too tired or busy with an anthropology exam.

10) I love teaching this class. And you know what? I actually do NOT want you to get an F. So stop looking at me like that.

another open letter

to my students…

Dear Class:

There are a few things that we need to discuss as this semester hurtles past. Time is flying by and your work is piling up, so here are a few tips to help you keep on top of things:

1.) When I say, “come to your conference with a research topic, a thesis statement, and a completed stasis grid,” I do not mean “come to your conference to ask me to pick a topic for you.” Surely you are interested in something. If not, why are you in college?

2.) You are in college. Please remember to put your name on your paper.

3.) By “quiz,” I mean “in-class assignment that requires you to remember and/or apply some course material.” I do not mean “in-class group work which is optional and ungraded.” Nor do I mean “something to stuff in your folder and forget about.”

4.) Extra credit is just that: extra. You do not have to do it, so if you think it’s too hard/too confusing/biased toward a liberal political agenda, don’t do it. [Oh, and p.s.: Asking for a rhetorical analysis is not biased toward a liberal agenda just because our President is a Democrat. If you want a liberal agenda, wait until next week. I’ll show you what it is.]

5.) Your handwriting sucks. Please use a utensil that actually shows on the paper and write large enough that I don’t need a magnifying glass. Gray-on-gray tiny print=you get an F.

6.) If you are late because you are hung over, please do not give me details. It is not an excused absence and I neither need nor want to know how many shots you had.

7.) It does not impress me that you once read “Old Man and the Sea.” I approve, I suppose, but this does not make me want to leap for joy and change your C to an A.

8.) Finally–and take this as a special tip from me to you, free of charge–wearing a bikini to class is not a good way to get your classmates’ attention. Especially if you’re a guy. But really, no matter what. It only makes you look dumb, because really, it’s not that warm out yet.

can I just say a few things, students?

* If you have not been concerned about your grade until now, it is too late. (Friday is the last day of class.)

* No, I cannot read your rough draft right this minute and tell you how to get an A.

* No, I cannot guarantee that if you follow all of my instructions from the last paper, you will get an A. Or, rather, I can, but only if you actually understand and apply all of the things I said, as well as fulfilling all elements of the written assignment.

* No, there is not more extra credit. You should spend your time studying for the exam.

* Yes, I am serious that missing class will affect your grade. That is why the syllabus says so. The syllabus. The document you got on the first day that outlines the whole course, which is available on the course’s web site and has been all semester, as well as being handed out on paper.

* My name is not Joann!

* Yes, I will help you refine your thesis statement. No, I will not choose your topic for you.

* Please stop smoking–you smell like a chimney and make me feel ill, plus you’re going to die young.

* No, I do not remember exactly what it was that was too broad about your thesis statement from the first paper. Do you have the paper with you? No? Do you remember your topic? No? Well, maybe you should bring the paper and come to my office hours, since I DO NOT HAVE EVERY PAPER FROM EVERY ONE OF MY 110 STUDENTS MEMORIZED!

* Yes, I can help you spell “Boleyn,” although I must say that if you can’t spell her name you probably do not know enough about her to be writing about her in a paper.

* My name is not Theresa!

Is it bedtime yet?

So, last night, Wesley woke up around 1 a.m. and didn’t go back to sleep until 6:15. That’s right, 6:15. I do not know why. I do not know if he’s going to do the same thing tonight. I do not know anything. Partly because my brain is fried from getting 1.5 hours of sleep.

I have to grade 23 papers tonight, minimum. Of course, this means that the kids’ Neediness Index is at an all-time high. In the past hour, the following things have happened:

* they have eaten four bananas between them and have fought over every one [although I keep pointing out there are plenty to go around];

* Mary has dumped a potty-full of urine on the floor [on purpose];

* I put Mary in time-out for this and she promptly announced, while I was cleaning up the pee, that she had pooped on the stairs;

* Wesley has pulled a book down on his own head, cried, and then tried to tear the pages out;

* Mary has insisted, weeping copiously until I complied, that I get a bowl for her to put blocks into, so that she can feed the blocks to her new imaginary dog, Ralph, who lives in the bathroom.

AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH. That’s all I have to say about today.