Slate Silliness

Slate continues its assault on academia. I wonder who is paying.

The most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, academic careers. For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer.

I’m due to give birth in under 3 months and I promise to inundate everybody with stories of how my career becomes blighted as a result. Of course, those stories will never happen, but I will do my utmost to squeeze every possible drop of self-victimization out of everything that takes place in my life from now on.

No, I don’t think I will because the woman I admire the most professionally has 4 kids and she raised two of them as a single mother.

That’s Just How I Am!

My students seem to think that ignorance and incapacity are immanent characteristics like height, eye color, or the shape of one’s ears and have to be accepted by everybody with no criticism or comment.

Time and again this semester I have tried to guide them towards improving their performance only to hear an indifferent, “Well, I’m just not good at spelling,” “I’m not good at interpreting poetry,” “I’m not good at remembering instructions,” “I’m not good at writing essays.”

They seem to believe that once they said this phrase, all further discussion of their performance should immediately stop. Capacity and incapacity are God-given qualities that a mere mortal can in no way modify.

I tried suggesting that the purpose of a college education is precisely to enrich one’s set of skills and store of knowledge but I’m not getting through. Students seem convinced that college exists so that they can come here, display the skills they already have, receive praise, and move on to another sphere of life. There, they will exhibit the same skills they had before coming to college, receive praise, etc. Existence is not about learning and improving but, rather, about exhibiting your pre-fabricated and unchanging uniqueness to as many people as possible in order to get the greatest number of accolades.

The concept of a self-made American has been substituted by the idea of a God-given one.

Technology Stuns Me

As somebody who still remembers the time when making a phone call involved sticking your finger into a dial and rotating it like you see in the picture that follows

I was absolutely shocked to see that a free app I downloaded onto iPod Touch 5 to make book lists (nerd thing) grabbed the bar code of my book and immediately had all of its information. The app somehow knew when it was pointed at a bar code (as opposed to being pointed elsewhere) and just grabbed it. I didn’t even have to press any buttons.

I’m so disturbed by this that my knees are trembling. It’s phenomenal how far technology has gone in such a short time. I have no doubt there are endless possibilities that I don’t even realize hidden in the devices I use.