The New Pope Is a Che

OK, I will probably not be converting to Catholicism because. . . weird:

“It was like waiting for the birth of a baby, only better, ” said a Roman man. A child sitting atop his father’s shoulders waved a crucifix.

The 76-year-old baby is the new Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio who is – surprisingly! – from Argentina. Everything Argentinean is better than everything non-Argentinean (except scholars of Hispanic literature), so I’m sure this is good news. Seriously, for an Argentinean to accept the post of God’s representative on Earth is a huge step-down because he must have surely believed he was God before he accepted this position as a Pope.

Of course, I’m pretty sure he was only elected because his last name made everybody think he was Italian.

And he is going to be called Pope Francis, which sounds cute and sexy. As my ultra-Catholic former colleague explained to me, “Catholicism is the religion that celebrates sex and sexual perversions. Have you seen all those images of naked, tortured, bleeding Jesus? Is that totally delicious, or what?”

Sorry, Catholics, I’m almost one of you now, so I have to make fun. Congratulations on the new Pope and let’s pray the stick in his ass will be smaller than the one the previous Pope enjoyed.

Eliminating Immigrants

Can somebody explain to me what motivates a student to hand in an essay saying that “immigrants cause racism in a society by provoking it,” “the current global economic crisis was caused solely and exclusively by immigrants,” “immigrants steal away the jobs that rightfully belong to the natives and that the natives are much better qualified to do by default” and “eliminating [sic!] immigrants will give an enormous boost to Spain’s economy” to somebody who is very obviously an immigrant?

The saddest part is that the student’s last name shows that she hails from the same part of the world as I do. What a great sense of self-righteousness does catching the penultimate boat entail!

P.S. There are 149 language mistakes on 6 pages of text in this essay, so the grade isn’t in question here. I wonder why good students never feel the need to be enormously proud of being a less recent immigrant than somebody else.

March 8th in Madrid

I was lucky to encounter a real manifestation in Madrid. I didn’t want to leave the country without filming a real manifestation to show my students.

On this occasion, people were marching to celebrate the International Day of the Working Woman (“You are working women, right?” a waiter asked us at a restaurant. “In that case, congratulations!”) and protest sexism. Spain has made amazing strides in its fight against sexism since the end of the woman-hating dictatorship of Franco in 1975. Today, in terms of gender equality, Spain has left not only all other Spanish-speaking countries but also the US far behind in the dust.

March 8th 7

It was, of course, very entertaining to see Soviet flags at a manifestation against sexism and in defense of reproductive rights. Given that under these very banners Stalin had issued a law that punished both women seeking abortions and doctors performing them by death, the presence of the banners at this particular manifestation was pretty hilarious. The protesters justified this strange choice with a slogan saying, “There is no fight for gender rights without a class war.” Well, as you can see, these are all very young people. They have all the time in the world to read their history textbooks.

“Without feminism there is no Socialism” the slogan behind the flags says. Yes, tell that to the Soviets, the Cubans, or the Chinese.

In the middle, you can see the flags of the Spanish Republic (the red, yellow, and purple.) What the purple flag means I have no idea.

March 8th 5

“No to sexist salaries!” and “Paying for the King and his mistress? I’m fed up!” said these slogans.

March 8th 6

“Neither yes-men nor yes-women” and “No to domestic violence irrespective of gender or age.”

March 8th 8

I would keep filming but my sister didn’t appreciate my journalistic enthusiasm. “You are a pregnant woman!” she said in a terrifying whisper and dragged me away.

Who Needs Harvard When There Is Always a MOOC?

Once again, every fool and his monkey has a mile-long opinion on how academics should do their jobs. The New York Times has continued its assault on higher education by publishing a rambling, stupid piece by some strange creature called Friedman who mistakenly believes his uninformed rantings on higher ed are so useful that they need to be shared with the general public.

This is how the piece starts, demonstrating from the beginning that its author is a sad, useless blockhead:

I just spent the last two days at a great conference convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”

I’m not sure if Friedman is really an idiot or is just faking to be one better to complete the corrupt assignment he has been given by his worthless rag. Can he really fail to realize that the prestige and the connections people pay for when they hand over $50K per year for an Ivy League diploma are not awarded by any stupid MOOC*? I understand that the real journalism, the kind where people did some sort of research before publishing their outpourings, is dead and gone. But would it have killed Friedman to call any job recruiter and ask whether s/he would find it easier to place a candidate who has a BSc or a BA from Princeton or a piece of toilet paper from a MOOC?

We all know that I’m not a huge fan of the Ivies (to put it mildly). However, the problems of Harvard – and of any actual college – do not exist on the same level as the problems of MOOCs. People who want to waste their time on MOOCs should, of course, feel free to do so. I hope for their sake that somebody somewhere is clueless enough to offer them some sort of a job.

I keep hearing (especially from Inside Higher Ed) that my dislike of MOOCs comes from a sense of fear and envy. I’m supposed to be terrified of MOOCs’ brilliant performance that is about to push me out of my job. Supposedly, the moment the students experience the joy of reading some crap online together with 25,000 other people, they will not want me any longer.

Friedman and Co can stop worrying about me and other real educators, however. These journalists are projecting their own very well-justified fears about their profession dying out onto other professions. Contrary to their beliefs, however, the value of a real degree from a real educational institution will continue to grow. Let the lazy waste their time and energy on MOOCs if they have nothing better to do with their lives. They will be easily defeated in the competition of life by those who made a smarter choice.

* “massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in distance education and often use open educational resources. Typically they do not offer academic credit or charge tuition fees. Only about 10% of the tens of thousands of students who may sign up complete the course.”