Excellent from existential comics
There are many posts online explaining what is happening in the crazy world of politics and many of them contain great details. I came across this one on Quora. Its long and it is trying to predict but the best part is the “why things are wrong analysis” which feels spot on. Check out Between Trump and Clinton who will win US presidential election?
The post addresses three main issues:
Trump’s rise stems from three major, interrelated factors.
1. The American political system has failed the majority of its citizens.
2. The American people, or rather large swathes of them, are politically ignorant. It’s important to not take this as an insult although I know many of you will anyway. There is nothing pejorative about the word ignorant. I for example am ignorant of many things- the rules of baseball, how to perform open heart surgery, how to express the likely path of a tornado as a mathematical equation and so on. Not knowing these things does not make me stupid or a bad person, I just never took the time to learn them.
3. The level of sophistry and distraction from real issues has reached such fever-pitch that few now trust anything that is said by media and politicians alike.
My focus of interest was on point 1 how the American political system has developed into the thing it is. Ian Jackson writes in an engaging humorous way and hits most of the main points as to why the system has become the way it has.
This must be one of the best headlines ever This Japanese Artist Was Fined for Distributing Plans to 3-D–Print Replicas of Her Vagina. It gets better when the model Rokude Nashiko is distributing is a kayak.
So it seems like its not illegal in Japan to make a mould of your vagina and turn it into a canoe – it is however illegal to distribute the specs…
On 8 May 2016, the court handed down its decision. She was found not guilty of the charges related to the kayak, on the grounds that the sculpture, with its bright colour and decoration, “did not immediately suggest female anatomy”, in the words of the BBC report. However, she was found guilty of the charges related to the 3D data, and was fined 400 000 yen, about half what the prosecution had suggested was appropriate. Wikipedia
Today is the last lecture for this semester so, as tradition dictates, this is when I try to sum up the courses, ask for advice on what to change and try to motivate the students to fill in the course evals.
As part of this motivation I rely heavily on meme’s to get this message across. So these are the actual slides I use when discussing the course evaluation with my students. Beginning with the easily forgotten question:
Then its time to go through the material used in the courses. I have a tendency to include a LOT of material aside from the textbooks. I want to see this as providing a wide array of material but I am very wary to listen for the ways in which the amount may just be overwhelming.
Naturally the gradable parts of the course are of great interest to all involved. I am definitely getting rid of attendance since it really just serves no real purpose. Then I need to think of more interesting classroom exercises and alternative grading events. Interpretive dance anyone?
This is followed by a plea for the filling in of course evals. In Sweden course evals never were a big part of my life but here they are such a routinized and integrated part of the system that they need to get done. But they also need to be useful.
So this is where the students come in… We want them to give their opinions about the course. But do they know what a good course is? Do I? Does anyone? Why did the students take the course? Why did I give the course? Why did the university offer the course?
From my perspective its not really the numbers that are important. I want/need the free text opinions of my students as this may offer me insights into what I can do. But offering insights requires detail. Saying you loved it doesn’t really help.
Nor does saying you hated it…
Its all about perspective.
But this is also the last day of class and I am sorry to see them all go. I am looking forward to the upcoming break and to the reading and writing I want to get done.
Sitting on the plane at Boston airport and hoping it will take off. The delay is because it’s overcast and raining in Philadelphia. This news does not really fit well with Philly’s tough image.
So I muttered under my breath and realized that none of my insults were things I was comfortable with. All the terms were derogatory to women, gay people, or race.
Naturally this brought to mind the great quote from Betty White
Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.
But this doesn’t help. I needed an insult to hurl at Philly for not being tough enough to let airplanes land in the rain. And I wanted an insult that didn’t disparage women or gays or that was racist. Betty is awesome, but she wasn’t helping.
Going back to Shakespeare there were a few tips. From Macbeth:
Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-liver’d boy.
Lily-liver’d that kind of has a ring to it. It rolls nicely off the tongue, but the hyphenation and apostrophe is going to make it difficult when texting.
Hamlet offered this:
Thou are pigeon-liver’d and lack gall.
It’s a variation on a theme but I guess even Shakespeare couldn’t be totally original. Same texting problem as before.
Damn! Where can I find a better source of insults? Any recommendations?
Kristofer Nelson writes about Privacy, autonomy, and birth control in America, 1860-1900, its a fascinating article on the ways in which gender and privacy have historically played out. This becomes particularly problematic when dealing with birth control. While access to contraception and abortion are still highly discussed today, they are not discussed in this way. What is interesting is the ways in which the private and public domains have been mapped and their borders re-drawn over time. Indeed
Access to birth control became, controversially, protected by the “right to privacy” in 1965;1 a hundred years before, “procreation was a matter of public concern.”2 Yet, contradictorily and confusingly, Victorian women — and their bodies — were protected (and limited) by a powerful social division between private and public spheres.
The rights of woman to her body was viewed in relation to other rights and needs. She was either “property” of her father or husband, or a national commodity as it was the women who would bear the American children. Therefore her use of contraception conflicted with a public interest:
A woman’s body was both a private and a national commodity. If she took steps to control her fertility she entered into the public domain and came into conflict with laws governed by public interest. If she interfered with her husband’s right to her body, she offended him as a man and a potential father.9
The latter quote is from Annegret S. Ogden, The Great American Housewife: From Helpmate to Wage Earner, 1776-1986, Contributions in Women’s Studies, no. 61 (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1986).