– I have been working non-stop from 11 am to 9 pm.

– I have worked  on my research, taught classes, and graded papers.

– I caught three students using Google Translator.

– I caught two plagiarists.

– I had to listen to a student claim in a presentation that euskera (the Basque language) is “exactly like Spanish.”

– I had to listen to the strep student’s new story about yet another disease that prevented her from being in class today.

– All I did for fun today was bitch on my blog and cook a vegetable soup.

– Translated a letter to the publishing house for somebody. Without using Google Translator.

– Had to put up with a student throwing a hissy fit because I gave her a B on a paper.

For all of the above-mentioned reasons, I will now drop into a bath-tub and stay there for a long time with a mask on my face, a book in my hands, a glass of home-made vegetable juice by my side, and a rose-scented candle on the sink.

What’s Worse?

What’s worse than translating your essay with Google Translator?

Finding an article in English, translating it with Google Translator, and trying to pass the resulting monstrosity off as your own work.

Plagiarism and Google Translator: why stop at just one offense when you can have two?

But wait. . . there is something that is even worse.

Does anybody wish to venture a guess what that is?

What’s worse is doing all this when your name is Pedro Rodriguez.

Now try topping that! Well, the semester is still young. I’m sure somebody will come up with something even more egregious.

Fuck You, Google Translator

Good students whose Spanish is quite excellent are tempted by this stupid thing to hand in a ridiculous jumble of unconnected words because they think that a translation by Google Translator is better than an essay in their own words. I don’t know what else to say to convince them that Google Translator is not capable of producing scholarly articles.

I have a feeling several of my students will fail their Senior Assignment and will not be able to graduate this year because of this stupid Google Translator. I don’t know what else I can say or do to make myself heard. I keep repeating that Google Translator cannot translate essays and make them comprehensible but I’m not getting through to the students. And then the students come to cry in my office which stresses me out.

I hate Google Translator.

Is Telling Students to Vote Wrong?

I always remind my students to vote. Of course, I never tell them whom to support and never betray my own political preferences. But I do tell them that voting is both a right and a privilege, that they need to have a say in how this country is run, that they should keep themselves informed and participate in the political process.

I gave this speech in 2004 and in 2008 and was preparing to give it this year. In my experience, the speech works. Students always look energized and more interested in voting after I give it.

I have discovered, however, that I’m not allowed to remind students to vote because this supposedly constitutes political activism which I’m not entitled to engage in while on campus because I’m employed by the state. The students will supposedly feel coerced to vote by me as the representative of the government (sic!), even though I don’t offer credit for voting and never persecute anybody for not voting.

It feels very weird to avoid any mention of the elections in my classes. In my language courses, I used to get students to recreate the presidential debates in Spanish and it was always a lot of fun. Now I can’t do any of this.

Of course, I will not violate this requirement but I still don’t get it. Do you think it is coercive to remind students that there will be an election on November 6?

Tears of Gratitude

Feminists who are a lot more popular than yours truly were “on the verge of tears with gratitude” when Obama made his extremely offensive comments that

These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues; these are economic issues

and that

In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured, because this is not just a health issue—it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.

Given the palpable contempt for “just women’s issues”, I have to wonder what it is that such feminists are so grateful for. The idea that a woman has no value and no interests of her own outside of the patriarchal family that consumes her entirely is not new.

I don’t feel like any of these comments were addressed to me. They sound like they were addressed to men who needed to be reassured that those useless womenfolks would not cost their male owners too much.

I also wonder what the deal is on “just women’s issues”. Women represent 52% of all inhabitants of this country. When Romney dismisses 47%, we are all appalled, and rightfully so. But where is the same outrage when Romney’s opponent tells us that the interests of 52% of the population do not merit to be addressed unless they affect somebody else’s interests, too?

No, I’m not getting over this any time soon. If there is somebody who is as incensed about this as I am, please let me know. I’m getting to feel too lonely here.

Early Voting Hours

It’s ridiculous that there should be a legal battle about extending the voting hours. The voter turnout in this country is extremely low, so any measure that allows more people to exercise their most important civic right should be welcomed.

It makes absolutely no sense that the election should be held on a Tuesday. How are people who work supposed to get to the polls? I have no doubt that many of my students will not vote because they are running between school and work all day long.

The PMS Does Not Exist

The myth of the PMS is nothing but a vestige of the deeply patriarchal mentality that saw women as overtly emotional and fragile creatures who were controlled by their unpredictable and uncontrollable physicality. This is self-evident to anybody but those who have bought into the myth. Here, however, is scientific proof:

“The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function — we’re skeptical about that,” Dr. Sarah Romans told me, skeptical said with audible restraint.

She and eight other researchers at the medical school at the University of Toronto published a review last week in the journal Gender Medicine that looked at all of the clinical research they could find to date on PMS with prospective data. Their conclusion was that the articles, in aggregate, “failed to provide clear evidence in support of the existence of a specific premenstrual negative mood syndrome.”

Romans isn’t saying that the mood symptoms we attribute to PMS aren’t real and common. But she is saying that those symptoms are culturally over-attributed to the menstrual cycle.

By pure chance, I recently found myself at a discussion board where different methods of contraception were talked about. The board scared me, to be honest.

“I went on the pill and became very emotional.”

“I went off the pill and became a total psycho bitch.”

“I never was on the pill, so why am I so psychotic and emotional?”

After 20 pages of comments about women’s uncontrollable emotions, I was beginning to wonder if I was even female. Then I saw the following comment which was a breath of fresh air on that uncontrollably emotional discussion board:

“I went on the pill and it made me fat and angry. So I went off the pill and realized that I was simply a fat bitch.”

It’s time to let go of the culturally constructed myth that women’s physiology has anything to do with uncontrollable emotions:

“PMS has been called a culture-bound syndrome in North America, and there are huge cultural differences in terms of how readily that explanation is reached for.” There aren’t, to her knowledge, cultures where a notion of PMS isn’t a consideration.

I know at least one such culture. When I was growing up, nobody heard we were supposed to have PMS or anything of the kind, so nobody had it. Then American companies started importing their menstruation-related medication and paying for endless ads aiming to convince us that we had to start suffering from these invented syndromes as soon as possible.