The Royal We

In America today, it’s all Trump, all the time. We’re collectively addicted to him. The nonstop scandals and outrages suck us in; they amount to Trump porn.

You see? They are delusional.

I can’t even remember when was the last conversation I had with an American about Trump. It wasn’t this year, that’s for sure. Nobody cares about these “scandals and outrages.” But reporters don’t notice because they project their crazy onto us.

Who Is It For?

At dinner, a recent arrival from Europe started talking about Trump in an outraged voice. Everybody else stared uncomfortably into their plates, coughed, and changed the subject.

Even academics have had enough of this silliness. I keep wondering, all these prostitute payouts, lawyers, collusions – who is it all for? What percentage of the population is following and has any interest? The people I know are more politicized than most and nobody cares.

At the gym today, every channel went on and on with this ridiculousness for an hour. And I’m guessing it’s not an especially crazy hour.


I like graduation ceremonies because they are very emotional plus I get some good reading in. Two hours of just sitting and reading are nothing to sneeze at.

The colleague who had attended the African American graduation pointed out something I’d never registered before. Not even 20% of African American graduates are male. So this is another reason why so many of these degrees are in community-oriented (i.e. underpaid) professions.

Our new Provost is very mumbly, so I have no idea what she even said. But there was a really cool speech by a local politician who was one of the first supporters of Barack Obama. This obviously drew thunderous cheers and applause from the audience.

After the ceremony was over, I did something I only do once a year: I ran. The only thing that can induce me to do so is the fear of getting stuck in an enormous traffic jam when the graduates and their guests try to leave campus. I even drove back with my robes on because I couldn’t waste a second to take them off.

Final Exams

I strongly believe that if a final exam is longer than two pages and takes longer than an hour to grade for a group of 30 students, there’s something wrong with the final exam. I want students to participate actively every day of class and not to cram like crazy for one huge exam at the end, the entirety of which they will forget two minutes after leaving the classroom.

In language courses, I put the emphasis on oral exams, which means that students speak in Spanish for the entire class session. No writing or dictionaries are allowed. One word in English, and you get a warning. Two words, and you fail the exam. I provide discussion topics at the appropriate level. The grades are all ready by the end of the exam. I have several of these exams throughout the semester.

As a result, one thing I don’t do during the last two weeks of the semester is grade. “The grading jail” is entirely self-inflicted.