Now, where is my enormous check that Democratic political advisers routinely receive for strategic advice of this caliber?
MAS. Obama may also wish to consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate himself, and then call for his own impeachment. You know, that way he could really get out in front of the GOP, and probably win the week, and maybe even impress David Broder!
SEK has a pretty good bit of schtick that he uses to discourage the practice. And by "schtick" I'm of course not being snide. Part of good teaching is showbiz. There are things perfessers can borrow usefully from good standup comedians, like stage presence, body language, timing, and "schtick." Personally I hold myself to the standard that, say, if Chris Rock can talk for 90 minutes and not bore anyone, so can I. Which is for many reasons unrealistic, but it's a goal! High personal standards and so forth. Which is not to say that showbiz is all there is to perfessoring by any stretch, but it is a part of it, one sometimes neglected....
Wait, what was I was saying? Oh yes. Texting.
Of course SEK is right that in a small composition class it's probably easier to monitor "texting" -- as well as all the other stuff that students do that is annoying and weird but common, like sleeping, whispering to cronies, doodling on the desks, using chewing tobacco. (NB, MollyI did once have a student try to chew tobacco in class; the boy was every two minutes spitting into a paper coffee cup before she stopped him, I believe. Now she has "no chewing tobacco in class" in her syllabus. So I guess I can't get too snotty about hotel water fountains.)
I myself teach sections under 30 students, either writing or lit, and I surely do request early on in the term that they knock off the excessive texting. And I do do the stuff the Perfessers in the article recommend, like roaming around the room, making eye contact, and so forth. (It's quite easy for me to avoid using Power Points or lecture notes, since I dont use either. I'm incapable of sticking to lecture notes, and while I do use projectors & computers & so forth, I hate Power Point, because it's the second most grotesquely & painfully misused communications medium known to humankind, right after the English language.)
But I have two objections to coming down too hard on "texting" as a new wicked phenomenon in & of itself.
The first is to do with a near-chastizing event, an epiphany, I had during one of my lit classes just this fall. I was teaching Madame Bovary, and I noticed that as soon as I started to talk about the first chapter, discussing Charles' ridiculous hat, and so forth, three or four students took out their phones, as opposed to their books, and turned said phoes on, while the rest of the class took out their books (well, except for the ones who didn't do anything at all, you know). As I began speaking, these phone-students started clicking away very quickly.
And I was annoyed. Why, these kids were texting, these evildoers, while I was lecturing! Me! The Most Riveting Perfesser Ever!
I drew in my breath to Sternly Admonish Them. But then I noticed that one young woman in the front was looking at me attentively, her thumbs poised expectantly over her phone, looking alert and engaged...
And I knew in that instant that the reason she had her phone out was she had downloaded the novel to her phone, and was also using the phone to take notes.
I truly had been about to yell at her, but I pulled back just in time to save face.
Look, students use these devices now, and not only for Evil. Indeed, these are remarkable devices which can help a savvy, dedicated student out in some practical ways. Madame Bovary is long out of copyright; the student got it free online and saved money. She didn't have to carry a book around in her pack. Yes, she could lose her phone -- but a student could also easily lose a notebook, happens all the time, and it's a heck of a lot easier to back up electronic notes than ones in a notebook. In class she could check any references I made that she wanted to know about; who was Napoleon III anyhow?
I can't assume anymore that just because a student has a phone out, they're doing something Bad. It's going to have to be a judgment call. Are they alert, glancing up to me from time to time, answering questions I throw out to them?
You know, the sort of stuff you'd have to do when they were using pens and notebooks, only now with iPhones.
The second point is a bit thornier. Even if they do have a phone out, and they are texting, are they not paying attention? Sure, technology invites, er, multitasking. I myself (ahem) know that I have the ability to go to a wedding and check college football scores at the same time. Ha ha ho.
More seriously, though, isn't this the environment students live in today? Haven't they grown up with all these gadgets and so forth? If they use them incessantly, and think it's natural to do so... is that their fault?
I'm afraid if you think about it too deeply, you see that the challenge of the professoriate is to teach students how to use commonly employed technology to help them learn.
Banning phones in classrooms just won't work. From the article:
Some high school and college teachers have sought to adapt text messaging to classroom use, texting assignments; asking questions of the class and having students respond via text, with the results shown on a large screen; and allowing students to text questions or comments during class.
"Our experience has shown that positive results can be achieved by encouraging students to bring their mobile phones out in the open and to use them to contribute to the class, and to their own learning — that is, by joining them instead of trying to beat them," New Zealand scholars wrote in a 2009 paper published in the journal Communications of the ACM.
You probably don't have to go that far. But you probably should at least understand that the damn things are here to stay and that NO just won't work.
UPDATE. Oops; SM reminds me I forgot to follow up on the asterisk. The most common Stanley Fish joke is that he has a gig writing for the New York Times.
1. This morning someone in California bought $650 worth of tickets from Stub Hub. Which is not news, exactly, except in the sense that they used the Visa debit card connected with our account to do it.
2. This afternoon the 11-Year-Old received a Master Card in the mail. Apparently he just needs to call an 800 number to activate it!
(1) is highly annoying, as it's a chunk of money. We'll be OK, but holy crap. (2) is pretty funny; the boy is pretty excited, though he is not being given a credit card, at least until he finishes his book report. We are traditional parents in that regard.
Two small data points, perhaps, but neither makes me feel all that much better about the current state of our nation's financial system.
To paraphrase Lillian Hellman, I don't agree with a word that Sarah Palin says, including "and" and "the."
Fair enough. "And" and "the" are of course prominent among the few actual words Palin seems to be able to use correctly in sentences ("uh" doesn't count). If you're going to try to figure out what she says, you're kind of stuck with "and" and "the," given her well-known difficulties with polysyllables.
And as a liberal feminist, it drives me absolutely bonkers that Palin is the most visible working mother and female politician in America, that she is the best exemplar of a woman with an equal marriage, that she has put up with less crap from fewer men than those of us who have read The Second Sex and marched in pro-abortion rallies and pretty much been on the right side of all the issues that Palin is wrong about.
Hillary Clinton is a very visible female politician in America. She is the Secretary of State. Nancy Pelosi is also a very visible female politician in America. Both of them are women. Both of them are mothers. Both of them have far better claims also to be "working" as "politicians" than Sarah Palin does, insofar as they do other things than quit their political jobs, collect money from resentful morons, and pay other people to talk shit on Facebook.
I have my issues with both Clinton & Pelosi. But they didn't quit their jobs. They work. On the most elemental level, it's insulting to class them with Palin.
But let us grimly proceed.
So I suppose I should confess: I like Sarah Palin. I like her because she is such a problem for all these political men, Republicans and Democrats alike, with their polls, and their Walter Dean Burnham theories of transformative elections, and their economy this and their values that--and here comes Palin, and logic just doesn't apply. She speaks in spoonerisms, she raises wretched children, she's a quitter, she's a refudiater, she shoots moose and beats halibut, she has a dumb accent that doesn't have the charm of Charleston or the Brahmin of Boston--really, she is just a lot of quirks.
But it doesn't matter. It will never matter and I bet it never has mattered, because Sarah Palin is hot. She has sex appeal. That's why people like her. That's the whole story. Everyone has to stop trying to deconstruct and decode it, because there is no accounting for chemistry, and Sarah Palin has lots of it going on with her public. I don't think anyone knows or cares what in particular she stands for, other than some general conservative cache of principles, because they are in love with her.
Sarah Palin causes wingnut morons to masturbate, and everyone else hates her because she's a cretin with no interest in or aptitude for governance but yet she bitches incessantly about politics and for no clear reason this gets her media coverage even though she has not a clue about anything remotely connected to policy.
How likeable of her: despite all this, recall, she has tits that defy logic.
The brand of "liberal feminism" on display in the foregoing is of a class I confess to having been previously unacquainted with, but I am simply fascinated to have here encountered it -- speaking, as always, as a scientist.
There is, you know, more.
The Democrats are total morons for not finding their own hot mama before the Republicans did so first, or maybe I should have left off the qualifiers and called it straight: the Democrats are just plain morons, at least where women are concerned.
Yes, the Democrats are morons. Even where women are concerned! But perhaps not having sufficient know-nothing "hot mamas" is precisely the issue.
Let's pause a moment.
I suspect Wurtzel knows just how deep down she is, because as everyone knows, when you're stuck in a hole, maniacally flinging shovelsful of shit is way more tempting than the more dignified but less gut-level-satisfying "stop digging" option.
Let's un-pause now.
The right wing, for whatever weird reason, has been much more receptive to outrageous and attractive female commentators who are varying degrees of insane or inane, but in any case are given a platform on Fox News and at their conservative confabs. Look at how great life has been for Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham and the assorted lesser lights. But there are no Democratic blondes, no riot grrrls on the progressive side of politics, no fun and fabulous women in the liberal scene who could pave the way for a Palin. Yes, there are women who are successful in the Democratic party, but none of them are successful because of their feminine wiles, none of them have played up their sex appeal the way Palin has. MSNBC's female host is Rachel Maddow, who is completely good in all manner of ways that good can be good--but still I must ask: Where are the policy babes?
Where are they right now after having read that? Cringeing?
Because it's not (omigod) an argument about how to get women to be interested in anything. It's an argument about how to make idiot males want to rub themselves. Which they'd do anyway, but gosh if you can make them feel Rigtheous at the same time... why, maybe you could even quit your job and still get paid!
Anyone with a sense of humor, a sense of fun, and a sense that women should be taken on their own terms really ought to like Palin. I mean, of course, you should hate her at the same time, but you should hope she is the beginning of revolution, grrrl style.
There is something here worth addressing. Being able to put on a good show is of course an invaluable skill in politics, and from I suppose a game-for-the-game's sake perspective you can step back and say, yes, Sarah Palin sure does know how to play the game!
But then is this new? Is the "hot woman who espouses anti-feminist positions" some sort of... revolution?
Perhaps not. (!)
Maybe "women who are taken on their own terms" are women who don't accept men's terms as a baseline?
Anyhow it really is not the show that matters. Feminism, as I understand it, is not at all about the show. It's about the tangible. Wage equality. The right not to be raped. The control of your body. It's about the tangible on the most incredibly basic of levels.
The thing that I always have to remind myself of, is that this politics shit is not a game. It's about fundamental questions of how human beings should be treated. (Should we drop bombs on foreigners recklessly? Should we raise the temperature of the globe?)
Maybe the difference that matters is between those who believe in games and those who believe in causes and effects.
If so, we're of course fucked, but it's an interesting point to consider. I mean, we've fucked anyhow.
For an American tourist weaned on Gaelic kitsch and screenings of “The Quiet Man,” the landscape of contemporary Ireland comes as something of a shock.
"Weaned"? Whatever it took to get your mother off her tit, I guess, I won't judge her. But a "Quiet Man' reference in the first sentence of an article about Ireland? What, the Lucky Charms leprechaun was too fucking highbrow for you?
There are two dead giveaways for "here we are about to talk shit about Ireland, a place of which we know nothing." ONE. A semi-self-deprecating reference to"The Quiet Man." TWO. A failure to understand that semi-self-deprecating references to "The Quiet Man" indicate, infallibly, that the speaker is about to talk shit about Ireland, a place of which he knows nothing.
Gah. The column, please, so I can get on with Life.
Drive from Dublin to the western coast and back, as I did two months ago, and you’ll still find all the thatched-roof farmhouses, winding stone walls and placid sheep that the postcards would lead you to expect. But round every green hill, there’s a swath of miniature McMansions.
I don't know what the fuck he is talking about. "Thatched roofs"? Half the inhabited farmhouses visible from the M6 have thatched roofs?
I'd be nitpicking, or twit-snickering, except Douthat is engaging in very typical Paddy-Punditry.
I'm probably not going to get this right, exactly, but bear with me. Ireland is in the wider public conversation in the US -- the amorphous Public Discourse -- an Interesting Conversational Gambit. And no more. That there are people living in Ireland, meh. DETAILS!
There are specifically Irish issues, with the peace process and so forth. But by and large, even with these, when they get discussed, it's from an axe-grinding perspective.
Which is to say that the commentary you get about Ireland is pretty much what Douthat gives you, which is, he has his ideas about thatched roofs and shit, his binary new/old crap: but whatever, the real issue is how Ireland is a parable or frickin' laboratory for his preconceived ridiculous trendy economic horseshit.
It is obvious to me that the Irish-British model is the way of the future, and the only question is when Germany and France will face reality: either they become Ireland or they become museums. That is their real choice over the next few years – it’s either the leprechaun way or the Louvre.
Because I am convinced of that, I am also convinced that the German and French political systems will experience real shocks in the coming years as both nations are asked to work harder and embrace either more outsourcing or more young Muslim and Eastern European immigrants to remain competitive.
As an Irish public relations executive in Dublin remarked to me: “How would you like to be the French leader who tells the French people they have to follow Ireland?” Or even worse, Tony Blair!
Part of what we learn here is that (shockingly) Friedman is pathologically credulous. "Here is the testimony of a public relations executive. How dispositive. After 'cab driver,' how authoritative could you even get?"
But that's not quite what I want to get at overall. This latest spectacular Irish fuckup is interesting I think not because it's so new and remarkable, but because if you look at the history of the post '21 state carefully, it's the same pattern over and over again: try to be more modern and advanced than what is considered modern and advanced in Britain at the moment, go a step further to get ahead... and fuck up. Ireland never looked so backwards as when it was trying to be forwarder than Britain -- the censorship laws are a perfect example.
Yes, I'm trying to ignore Douthat.
In sleepy fishing villages that date to the days of Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s Pirate Queen (she was the Sarah Palin of the 16th century)
It’s as if there were only two eras in Irish history: the Middle Ages and the housing bubble.
Thanks for your insight -- you looked out a car window!
This actually isn’t a bad way of thinking about Ireland’s 20th century.
If you don't want to understand it, sure.
The island spent decade after decade isolated, premodern and rural — and then in just a few short years, boom, modernity! The Irish sometimes say that their 1960s didn’t happen until the 1990s, when secularization and the sexual revolution finally began in earnest in what had been one of the most conservative and Catholic countries in the world. But Ireland caught up fast: the kind of social and economic change that took 50 years or more in many places was compressed into a single revolutionary burst.
"The Irish sometimes say...?"
Where does Douthat even get off talking like this? He just said he knows nothing about Ireland except what he knows from shit movies and from driving around. Who cares! he has a POINT!
Progressives and secularists suggested that Ireland was thriving because it had finally escaped the Catholic Church’s repressive grip, which kept horizons narrow and families large, and limited female economic opportunity.
That is NOT what "progressives" said, nor "secularists." Omigod. For fucking openers.
The punchline is sublime, though. Honestly, no tampering! This is what Douthat seriously believes the Grownups can learn from the Paddies:
As for the Irish themselves, their idyllic initiation into global capitalism is over, and now they probably understand the nature of modernity a little better. At times, it can seem to deliver everything you ever wanted, and wealth beyond your dreams. But you always have to pay for it.
Even "fuck" fails me here. This is... well, crystalline. An apotheosis!
ATHENS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the United States was "not a good policy", weeks before tax credits are up for renewal.
U.S. blending tax breaks for ethanol make it profitable for refiners to use the fuel even when it is more expensive than gasoline. The credits are up for renewal on Dec. 31.
Total U.S. ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year according to the International Energy Industry, which said biofuels worldwide received more subsidies than any other form of renewable energy.
"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.
"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.
As he concedes, Gore did support such subsidies in 2000, because he was trying to win the presidency, and, well, he was a politician. Scandal.
To illustrate his apparent shift in position, Benedict offered the example of a male prostitute using a condom.
"There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be ... a first bit of responsibility, to re-develop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes," Benedict was quoted as saying.
"But it is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection."
I'm sure this will be a tremendous relief to all the male prostitutes in the congregations at mass this holiday season.
Cough ahem cough.
Look, it's not like this blog has much of a capacity to resist the temptation to gleefully harvest any low-dangling fruit as we jaunt along upon the low road. Or, for that matter, to not mix metaphors. Which is to say, there's a lot of jokes to be made here, and the Church, and Benedict, on this point quite deserve to be laughed at, derisively. But all that to the side, a minute; let's pursue the Real Point.
Benedict sparked international outcry in March 2009 on a visit to AIDS-ravaged Africa when he told reporters the disease was a tragedy "that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems."
Which is (previous link) Fun in regards to this:
"The problem was not Benedict, it was others in the Vatican who argued that if you said using condoms was OK in certain situations, it would send out the message that they were approved. This was a PR problem."
Bet your ass it was.
When the morality you get, presumably, from the straight pipeline to God causes you PR problems, well...
Joyce called Catholicism "a logical and coherent absurdity," and this class of thing is precisely why he was right.
Suffice it to say, if you believe in God, great, but remember always that He has a Special Place for condoms in His Plan for Us.
And that Special Place is the head of your dick. Suit up, gentlemen, please.