I started telling N about a course on Mark Twain I took as an undergrad at McGill.
“I don’t know why anybody would take such a course,” he said sleepily. “One could just get the books out of the library and read them.”
I almost fell off the bed when I heard that.
“Well,” I responded, brimming over with righteous indignation, “I have no idea why anybody would pay a huge salary to a statistician when one can just as easily count things on a calculator.”
“You can’t do what I do just by using a calculator,” he explained.
“And you can’t substitute what I do in class by taking books out of a library!”
Can you believe that, folks? I have failed at educating my own husband about the importance of literary criticism. I feel like a series of lectures at the home front is in order.
A student told me a story today that left me speechless. She applied to two grad schools and they both accepted her as a “non-degree seeking student” for an MA program. The student had no idea what this meant and came to seek my advice as to whether she should accept.
We all know how mild-mannered and soft-spoken I am, so I told her immediately that this is nothing but a shameless scam aimed at wheedling money out of her while offering absolutely nothing in return. (I didn’t make references to “evil freakazoids”, but I was on the verge of doing that.)
This is a student from a very modest background who is putting herself through school with a lot of hard work and personal sacrifice. She is not the kind of a person who can afford to take grad courses just for the fun of it with no hope of a degree at the end of the road.
Can you imagine the gall of some grad schools? They have invented this “non-degree seeking student” scam that allows them to take money from students while not even promising them a degree in return.
I’m drowning in a sea of ideological discomfort, people.
Our university purchased a batch of old and stale chalk that keeps breaking whenever you try to write. I use the chalkboard a lot in my language courses, and it annoys me that the chalk keeps breaking and interrupting the flow of my class.
And what normally happens when people are frustrated? Right you are, they interject. Since this is a Spanish class, I interject in Spanish. And today my students decided to censor me.
“What did you just say when the chalk broke?” they asked.
“I said ‘Ay, Dios mio!'”
“What does that mean?”
“It means ‘Oh my God’.”
In response, I heard a small lecture about taking God’s name in vain.
It takes a real lot for students to make me angry. They can come in late, fail to show up for the exam, forget to hand in the homework, text in class, but I remain calm and cheerful. But when people try to sanitize my speech, I get livid. It isn’t even like I used any sort of X-rated vocabulary. And if I had done that, nobody has the right to censor me either.
Why do people have to be so stuck up and censorious?
Of course, everybody has the right to attach any sort of interpretation to their own life. Sometimes, however, it gives me pause to consider how easily people adopt weird and meaningless verbal constructions and hide behind them. Here is a recent example:
Horrible father, tragic situation, an appalling story. There can be no argument about this.
Still, what on earth does sexual objectification have to do with this? The father is a jerk precisely because he condemns his daughter’s very first attempt to present herself as a sexual being. His is an idiot because he attempted to prevent her from practicing her right to be sexual in society.
It’s like some people have memorized the idiotic mantra “sexual objectification = bad” and roll it out just because they can.
In case there are readers who haven’t seen it, here is my old post on why this whole “Oh my God, I’m sexually objectified, let’s all go crawl in a corner and die” routine is stupid.