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Clarissa's Blog

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

Archive for the day “May 26, 2011”

Sexists Against Palin

Seriously, as much as used to dislike Sarah Palin, the amount of sexism addressed at her is enough to turn one into her supporter. I’ve seen this “game” on three of the blogs in my reader list and I’m too disgusted for words. What purpose is this kind of crap supposed to serve? I even followed the stupid link, only to discover that there is no “undress anybody male” game there. I’m not leaving this link here because it attempts to leave spyware, and I wouldn’t do that to my readers.

WTFF, I ask you?

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Repairing an Autistic Student

I’m reading a mystery novel titled If Thy Right Hand by Robin Lamont. The reading goes slowly because the scenes where a mother bullies her 19-year-old son with Asperger’s Syndrome are painful to read. This helicopter-parent par excellence treats her bright adult son as an invalid and does all she can to prevent him from accepting an offer of studying at and working for a good university. This woman, whose personal life has always been a horrible mess, tries to prevent her son from leaving the house because of a single bad date he had. Of course, there is a reason why she tries to cripple the guy in this way: she needs him home to “babysit” for her younger son (for whom, at 12 years of age, it is very difficult to qualify as a bona fide baby.)

This character’s attitude to her son is very symbolic of the way our society has learned to treat autistics. Autism is a new fad that irresponsible parents and stupid bureaucrats like to exploit to achieve their own goals. Ten years ago it was ADD. Now it’s autism. It will be something else ten years from now. None of these kind little helpers and care-givers ask autistics themselves what it is that they need, of course. They just try to repair them according to their own understanding of what constitutes normalcy. I blogged about such parents a while ago. Now, unfortunately, the time has come to blog about colleges that do it under the guise of helping students with autism.

By way of a fellow Aspie’s blog, I alighted on an article that enumerated programs adopted by some universities with the goal of helping autistic students integrate better into college life. I have no idea why a bright Aspie, whose IQ is normally twice that of many of their NT peers, should get special help to deal with college as opposed to the illiterates who can’t read and understand two sentences out of a textbook. Possibly, it’s because we are a society that doesn’t see stupidity as a disability (Bush, Palin, Schwarzenegger, anybody?) as opposed to the horrible handicap of not having many friends. As I was reading what these “helpful” programs were offering, I almost had a panic attack and felt an intense desire to delete all of the posts where I identify as an Asperger lest a cheery group of bureaucrats on our campus decides to improve my existence with a similar set of measures.

Here are some of the things these programs offer:

peer mentor training, support from advisors, as well classes and programs to help them better adapt to life in college, additional help from other students, psychologists and other professionals, meetings with team members, help from counselors and peers, make new friends

See all that socializing, meeting, and hanging out? I’m sure all autistics are just dying to engage in more socializing. The result? See here:

Students at Mercyhurst who have an autism disorder never need to feel alone on campus.

Wow, imagine that. Never feeling alone. I can imagine the beauty of never ever being left alone by a bunch of ignorant do-gooders, shrinks, and “peers.”

However, if none of these beautiful measures help, you can just build a ghetto around these pesky autistics who refuse to have their social skills sufficiently well-developed:

They may live in a special house on campus along with two peer mentors, where they will gain the skills they need to learn to live independently and become a successful college student.

Maybe it will also be a good idea to make them all wear an “Autism Speaks” patch on the left side of their chest. This way, the do-gooders can identify them easily and make sure that they are really never ever left alone. Because, in case you didn’t know, it’s the goal of every autistic to

Get out and make new friends.

We all know that people who don’t get out and make new friends are not fully human. So it’s important to identify those who don’t get out enough and prefer to spend all their time stuck alone in the library or reading in their room (those losers!) and teach them how to make friends. See how NTs are trying to impose their vision of happiness onto the poor, stupid autistics:

Students will not only be able to interact with staff, but also a large number of autistic students from the college and the surrounding community.

Isn’t it cool? “Interacting with the community” are words that make every autistic heart beat faster in delighted anticipation.

As in the book I quoted at the beginning of this post, there is, of course, an easily identifiable reason why such services are offered. The last sentence of the article gives us our answer:

Parents and students should be aware, however, that this support doesn’t come cheaply and can run as much as $3,200 a semester– a price that many are willing to pay to get the help and guidance they need.

Long Posts in Google Reader

I have no idea why people insisted that I offer the complete version of my posts in Google Reader. I did it since everybody asked, but I hate it when other bloggers do that to me. I just scrolled through an endless post with a gazillion photos that went on and on forever. And then, the same post appeared for the second time for some reason. Do people really enjoy all that scrolling?

The Grade Aligning Insanity Is Spreading

Is this in stock for all of us? Look what College Misery published today:

As this semester ended, we were deluged with emails – and one video from our chair – about the need to better “align our grades” to those of the majority of our colleagues. All sorts of plans are in progress for the coming fall; a portfolio from each faculty member must be submitted. Final grades should fit inside an approved “distribution bell,” and our T&P portfolio will now have one additional requirement – a report on the aligning of our grades to the departmental norms.

In the comments to the post, you can see that many people have the same experience at their departments. And there are a few sheep who even believe this is a good policy.

If we all presented a united front and resisted, no administrator would be able to humiliate us in this way. We are all to blame for humoring the bureaucrats, for agreeing to drown in mountains of paperwork, for allowing ourselves be treated like crap. In coming up with these policies, the administrators, at least, defend their own interests, their right to humongous salaries and the best offices on campus, their power. We, the actual educators, are a lot more stupid because we keep letting them spit on us and even come up with convoluted explanations of why it is perfectly acceptable for the administrators to do so.

Which Cell Phone Provider Did Aristotle Use?

You heard about the “happiness movement”, right? It’s a bunch of quacks who preach on the benefits of “positive thinking” and manage to get lots of funding on campuses for their pseudo-scientific rubbish.

I’ve been reading an interview with Alexandra Stoddard, one of such self-appointed gurus of “mindful living” (that’s an actual expression such folks use), and it’s mind-boggling that anybody would waste their money on reading books written by somebody who is this limited intellectually and linguistically. Here is my favorite response to one of the interviewer’s questions:

Q: You don’t use a computer, email or any electronic communication devices, besides a telephone. How have you managed to stay unplugged and produce so many books And why have you made this challenging decision?

A: Because my mentor, my guru, is Aristotle, and he didn’t have computers.

Her guru Aristotle didn’t have a vagina either. I’m trying hard not to imagine  how Ms. Stoddard might be dealing with that. Apparently, a phone is something Aristotle did have, which is good to know. Otherwise, it could have been really sad for that poor Aristotle. Imagine sitting there with no computer, no email, no vagina, and not even a phone to call up his friends and talk about the importance of being “plugged in.” Or “unplugged.” It’s hard to make any sense out of the lingo.

Ms. Stoddard refers to herself as a “philosopher of contemporary living.”

P.S. Thank you, University Diaries, for pointing me towards this gem.

Spammers and Frog Legs

Can anybody explain to me why, in the 9 days I’ve been at WordPress, spammers have tried to leave 21 spam messages in the same post, which is the recipe of my frog leg soup? Do spammers feel some special affinity to frog legs, or something?

And it’s always different spammers, too, not the same one. Why that particular post? It’s not even all that recent. Or all that popular.

Amputating Language

I’m reading my father’s new novel, parts of which are written in Ukrainian. This makes the reading very painful. Our language was taken away from us, amputated without anesthesia, through genocide, colonial domination, persecution. Amputees often say that they can feel pain in their amputated limb. So do people whose language, whose entire culture was taken away from them. The language isn’t there any more, but it still hurts.

I don’t speak Ukrainian. I understand it, I read it but I never lived in a place where it was spoken on a daily basis. In highly emotional moments, it comes back to me from some place where it has been buried by centuries of my ancestors being forced to be afraid and ashamed of speaking it.

The language that has been imposed on me as my first language is Russian. I dislike it, I feel no affinity for it. It expresses nothing about my way of being. It is more alien to me than languages I have learned in adulthood because they carry no historical burden of genocidal horrors. This is why I have spent my life learning other languages – English, Spanish – trying to fill the void where people usually have their mother tongue. Having as your first language one that you dislike divorces you from an important part of yourself.

My cultural heritage and my language have been stolen from me. Ukrainian artists were killed, their works were destroyed. Our history was falsified beyond belief. Our people were taught to be ashamed of themselves and call themselves “Russian.” Our independence came too late for it to matter. Amputated limbs do not grow back and cultures that have been razed do not experience a rebirth.

But the amputated language still hurts.

Ever Wondered Why Everybody Hates American Tourists?

Here is why:

 Today, I tried to call someone to confirm a tour for tomorrow, and I couldn’t get my hotel phone to accept the numbers I was typing in. So I went down to the desk, and the pretty girl there (they’re all pretty) said I didn’t need to use the prefix, ’cause I’m in Poland. So up I went to my room to try the number again, sans prefix.
     Nope.
     So I went downstairs to the gal at the desk (still pretty), and she tried to call for me. It didn’t work.
     “The phones,” she said, cryptically.
     She tried another phone. Finally, she got through. She shoved the phone in my face. “Talk,” she instructed.
     Tonight, we noticed that about a dozen seriously pretty girls—dressed to the nines—were hanging around the lobby area of the hotel. My dad pointed out the phenomenon. “Maybe it’s a hooker convention,” I suggested.
     But they looked a tad wholesome for that.
Make sure you read the entire post because this is just a little snippet from a long rant about how those weird Poles do some things different than the Americans- imagine the gall! It’s like they don’t even live their lives in a breathless preparation for a possible visit from tourists. So inconsiderate.
Once I traveled as  part of a group tour across Spain and Portugal. (It was a BA graduation gift from my parents.)
“Please, my friends,” the tour guide begged us before every stop, “I understand that you love MacDonald’s. We all really love MacDonald’s. But since you are traveling abroad, you might want to consider giving local food a try. I could recommend some really nice places.”
“Boo!” yelled the tourists, the youngest of whom was at least 20 years older than I was. “We want hamburgers!”
After the excursion to the Palacio Real in Madrid, tourists complained that it wasn’t nearly as impressive as their guidebooks had suggested. Lisbon was deemed horrible because there was nothing to shop for there. La Giralda was “nothing special” and the Spanish people “short and strange looking.”
Now I see, of course, that it could have been worse. There are people for whom a group of well-dressed women in another country immediately screams “hookers.”

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