Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “November 15, 2010”

>Will the Humanities in Great Britain Survive?

>Here is a quote from a great post on this subject by a professor of English literature at a British university:

It’s quite likely that I will be out of a job in eighteen months or so.  The funding cuts announced by the government in the wake of the Browne review are particularly savage in the subject area where I work, and in the kind of institution where I work. The emphasis on the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects means that, in effect, arts and humanities subjects are going to be denied any funding at all, and will have to survive on vastly increased students fees. The real terms cut for a department like mine in the sector of the university market we are in is about 98%. Whether there is a pool of students prepared to pay those fees is another matter, and it seems clear that lots of departments will close, and it is by no means inconceivable that entire universities will have to shut up shop. And, you know, I somehow don’t think that will be Oxford and Cambridge. Already, redundancies have been announced, and I know of several institutions where departing staff are simply not being replaced.

Read the rest of this informative post here. Rob Spence, the author of the post, gives a very good insight into what awaits the academics in the Humanities not only in Great Britain but here in North America as well. The people we keep electing (both here in the US and in Great Britain) are dead-set on lowering the level of general intelligence among voters. Only extremely silly, ignorant and uninformed people will ever vote for the likes of Rand Paul, Sarah Palin,  John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, etc. So it’s in the direct interest of such politicians to rob their citizens of an education that will teach them to think for themselves, express their opinions, and see glaring holes in the reasoning dished out to us by our ultra-conservatives.

>A Great Quote from Tom Robbins

>I just started reading Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, which was recommended to me by David (otherwise known as Pagan Topologist.) The very first sentences of this novel are absolutely priceless:

THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

As a Slavic person (and a passionate lover of beets, potatoes and radishes), I can testify to the surprising aptness of this sentence.

>Listening in on Students’ Conversations

>I just heard a female student say the following to a group of friends:

I mean, if my boyfriend and I were married or at least engaged, that would, like, solve all of the problems we now, like, have in our relationship.

Oh youth, oh innocence, oh the touching naivete of the younger generations. . . It’s only when listening to this kind of conversations that one realizes how old one is.

>Prissy Textbook Authors


Authors of language textbooks (especially, those aimed at advanced-level students) realize that it is necessary to include cultural content in a textbook to make it useful. However, they are often prevented by their annoying prissiness from addressing said content in a direct and honest way. To give an example, today in my Advanced Spanish Conversation class we read a text by a Mexican author where words “pendejo” and “huevona” were used. The prissy authors of the textbook translated the word “pendejo” as “dumb” and the word “huevona” as “lazy.” This, of course, made my Mexican students laugh hysterically.
The words in question can, on certain occasionas, be used in the sense suggested by the book’s authors. However, the set of implications they carry is very offensive, especially in Mexico where bandying around “pendejos” and “huevones” at every opportunity might get you into serious trouble. I mentioned that to my students and warned them to be very careful with this vocabulary. I didn’t go into details of what these words actually mean, but I will do so for the benefit of my blog readers. Be forewarned, though, that the etymology of these words, just like many words in the Spanish vocabulary, is not for the faint of heart.
Pendejo – the original meaning of this word is “a particle of dirt that hangs from one’s pubic hair.” That particle of dirt is obviously neither good nor useful, so referring with this word to a person is quite offensive.
Huevónoriginally referred to bulls who were not castrated and, therefore, still had balls (one of the meanings of “huevos” is testicles.) These bulls were used for breeding instead of hard work. This is why the word is often used to refer to a lazy person.
I do wish authors of language textbooks had enough courage to avoid bowdlerizing an entire language simply because it hurts their sensibilities to accept cultural and linguistic variations.

>Negotiating with a Cell Phone Provider

>I hate talking on the phone. As an autistic, I find it weary work trying to figure out when it’s my turn to speak, what the other person is saying, when the conversation is supposed to end, and who should end it. The only person I love talking to on the phone is my sister who lives in Canada. We blab for hours every single day.
My cell phone contract is running out, so on Friday I called my provider and badgered the customer service representative for exactly 93 minutes. It was hard because, as I said, I’m not good with the phone. Still, the hard work paid off. I have found that if interpersonal communications are hard for you, it makes sense to inhabit a different persona for the purposes of that one phone call or event. My sister is amazing at bullying cell phone providers into giving her whatever she wants, so for the purposes of this long and painful phone call, I pretended to be her. Sometimes, she just calls them for fun and always ends up getting something out of them.
In the course of the conversation with my provider, I kept threatening to switch to their main competitor and as a result I got everything I wanted and more. This is what I’ll get:
1. A new Blackberry Torch (free, red, no shipping and handling to pay, and it will be delivered today).
2. My monthly bill has been cut in half and the new conditions have been applied to it retroactively for the past two months.
3. A $200 credit.
In case you need to negotiate with your cell phone provider, here are some magic sentences that will help you get what you need from them:
1. “I’ve been a great customer to you for the last 2 years, but now I’m planning to switch to your competitor (do research online and find out who that is) and be a great customer to them.”
2. “I’m sitting in front of my computer right now, and my browser is opened on your competitor’s webpage. I have selected the phone and the plan I want. All I have to do is press the ACCEPT button. Should I do it right now?”
3. Never accept the first offer they make, no matter how good it sounds. If they made the offer, that means they’ll give you more. Just say to whatever they are offering: “Oh no, that’s unacceptable. Your competitor is offering me XYZ.”
Nowadays, when there are more cell phones in the country than there are people, nobody should ever pay a dime for their new cell phone again, no matter how sophisticated and fancy it might be. Our cell phone bills should keep getting lower all the time because providers have no new customers to attract. All they can do is try hard to retain the customers they already have or tempt their competitors’ customers away from them.
Remember, your cell phone company needs you a lot more than you need it. Good luck!

This post is supported by a long distance provider. Do check them out!

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