Disarming the Intolerable

The best way to disarm an intolerable reality when it’s about to crush you is. . .

How would you finish the sentence? It’s not a riddle, it’s a way to self-explore.

Continue reading “Disarming the Intolerable”

Friday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

The neo-Nazi Hungary allies itself with the neo-Nazi Putin. Big surprise.

Food stamps fuel entrepreneurship: “Harvard Business School professor Gareth Olds shows that access to welfare has a positive and dramatic impact upon entrepreneurship, and that people who become eligible for some form of government benefit are much more likely to become entrepreneurs than those who do not.” Food stamps is a great program that needs to be expanded.

In Spanish. The world’s greatest living writer Juan Goytisolo takes down the Catalonian project of so-called independence.

Going on the market before you are done with dissertation may be a wise move,” informs us Inside Higher Ed. As if PhD candidates haven’t been doing that forever. I’m beyond annoyed with these inane articles that give vapid advice and attempting to solve non-existent problems.

A really stupid pronouncement from someone who seems to consider himself some sort of an expert on the issue: “Women’s wages aren’t pushed down by employers who hire women but by employers who don’t hire women.” It always stuns me to see people who are so blatantly stupid.

I completely and passionately support gender equality but this article is just too stupid. Sorry, it isn’t my fault there are so many idiotic pieces in this week’s collection.

It amazes me that supposed experts in critical theory, textual analysis and semiotics cannot for the life of them recognize the use and societal relevance of large-scale allegory and metaphor in works of sf or YA.” Social relevance doesn’t make a text a work of art, that’s the problem. A political manifesto might be extremely useful and super relevant but it isn’t necessarily a work of art.

In Spanish. A hilarious scandal surrounding writer Javier Cercas. I’ve been meaning to write about it at length but haven’t had the time yet.

What do you think of the Atheist Positivity Challenge? I think it’s stupid, of course.

A very sad example of how people justify the abuse of children because they can’t find the courage to condemn the abuse they suffered in their childhood. As can be expected, the long text is peppered with fantasies of eventually becoming an abuser. This isn’t surprising but it is extremely sad.

Prepaid restaurant meals: is this a trend of the future?

Many beautiful photos of the city where I was born.

A study [PDF] published in a journal of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence found that sites that have a “downvote” button to punish bad comments lock the downvoted users into spirals of ever-more-prolific, ever-lower-quality posting due to a perception of having been martyred by the downvoters.” People should get a life immediately.

There’s a reason that “Social Justice Warrior” has become a pejorative. It’s not just the Right attempting to besmirch the name. No, these people do it just fine all by themselves. This is not a cohesive social movement; this is a bunch of whining babies attempting to one-up one another in the Oppression Olympics and having contests to see who can call out someone the fastest. If the Left wants the win the culture wars, it’s going to have to do better than that.” So true.

I may be a middle-aged white man, but I’m not an idiot. . . It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.” Yes, buddy, you are right, you are not an idiot. You are a total fucking brainless idiot. That’s an important distinction.

I read a stupid and boring article making a stupid and boring point that “progress ain’t that grand” and decided to look up the author. I was not in the least surprised to discover that the stupid fellow has tenure in Alberta.

When I was a kid in Florida (where it is very fucking hot), it was not at all unusual to see a woman in a bikini top in the grocery store in high summer. Now it never really happens. No one thought anything of it then, but now it’d be a scandal.” The reason why I personally don’t want to see people in swimming attire in a store is not because of prudishness but because I hate to see life robbed of its richness.

Long-term use of anti-anxiety and insomnia drugs may dramatically increase the odds of developing Alzheimer’s.

Despite embracing technology more than their elders, the study found that millennials were more likely to have read a book, either in digital form or on dead trees, in the past year than Americans over 30. Even more surprising is the fact that more young people believe there is important information that can’t be found on the Internet than their forebears.”

An Update on Putin

I know it’s completely useless but I will still quote this very good update on Putin:

Neither the Americans nor the Europeans seem to be in the same class as Putin when it comes to assessing power realities and crafting strategies. Russia remains a weak power with a poor long-term outlook, but its two greatest resources are the even greater weakness and incoherence of neighboring states like Ukraine and the fecklessness and moral posturing of the leadership of Europe and the United States. One would think that Western leaders would have noticed by now that caving into Putin’s demands doesn’t satisfy him but rather only emboldens him to demand more. One would have hoped that repeated exposure to Putin’s mix of clear vision, bold action, and lack of scruples would have led Western leaders to raise their game appropriately. So far there is no evidence of this happening. Putin is still able to outmaneuver and surprise the West, still able to inflict serial humiliations on it, and still able to out-think it.

Putin is a pretty stupid, uneducated fellow. His speech patterns, gesticulation and comportment betray very lumpenized origins. Yet even this idiot is managing to outmaneuver Obama, Merkel, and Cameron. Let’s hope that no dictator with a fully functioning brain appears on the world arena because, with the kind of leadership that we have, we’ll be royally screwed.

Even More on Student Evaluations

I am absolutely convinced that all of this endless belly-aching about the horrible unfairness of student evaluations comes from people who are shitty teachers. Be a good teacher, and students will adore you and write you the kind of evaluations that will make you and your tenure committee weep.

Here are some alternatives to student evaluations the article proposes:

To do a review of the materials that professors use to create classes.

“Show me your stuff,” Stark says. “Syllabi, handouts, exams, video recordings of class, samples of students’ work.”

First of all, who in the fuck’s name are you and why should you opinion matter more than that of my students who were actually in the classroom? Second of all, what a great joy it will be to have one’s work evaluated by somebody who thinks that teaching is about syllabi, handouts and exams.

“Let me know how your students do when they graduate.”

How do they do what, doofus? Speak Spanish? Save for tracking them down all over the planet and speaking to them, there is no way whatsoever to measure that.

“That seems like a much more holistic appraisal than simply asking students what they think.”

I’m sure this creature gets really sucky student evaluations. And I’m sure it never occurs to him that this happens because he despises the idea of asking students what they think so much.

According to the idiots who inspired this article, students are incapable of forming an opinion on the quality of teaching but they can be used to spy on professors:

Both Pellizzari and Stark agree that student surveys should be used in a much more limited way, to capture student satisfaction. And they could perhaps be used to gather information on factual points like whether the professor showed up on time or canceled class more than once or twice.

I really like the phrase “gather information.” What a great way to foster a good working environment in the classroom. Just use students to gather information on professors. Who cares about their stupid opinions when they can be used to gather info?

What lies behind this approach is, of course, a profound contempt for students:

“If you make your students do well in their academic career, you get worse evaluations from your students,” Pellizzari said. Students, by and large, don’t enjoy learning from a taskmaster, even if it does them some good.”

In my long teaching experience, students really want to learn and appreciate educators who teach them well. I meet an exception to this rule maybe once a year and normally end up discovering that the student’s problem was none other than my incapacity to engage.