Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for October, 2007

Doldrums

Posted by Gerald on October 30, 2007

I really feel like I’m in the doldrums of the semester right now.  The energy from the beginning of the semester is gone and the end of the semester seems very far away.  I usually see an increase in absences around this time of the year.  This morning I walked into my 8 am class to dead silence.  I’ve got 63 people in there – mostly 18 or under.  I felt like I was carrying them uphill on my back.

In the afternoon I was covering the film class taught by my friend who is recovering from surgery.  Today we had a discussion of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  A group of students lead each discussion and that panel did pretty well, especially the two who dressed up.  The rest of the class was basically comatose.  I was surprised by that, this isn’t a film that people tend to have no reaction to.

I think it just gets back to the doldrums.

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I’m Caught Up!!!

Posted by Gerald on October 17, 2007

I’m sipping wine and watching Bionic Woman

Due to my having worked all the way through my fall break I am, for the first time this semester, caught up with all of my grading.  I have never had a semester like this.

Tomorrow the schedule includes the first instance of what we hope will be a series of public academic conversations.  My friend and colleague Steve over at Semeiotikos came up with this awhile ago.  We are hoping to model, as another colleague called this, “how cool it is when smart people talk about interesting things.”  We hope that maybe this might turn on a few students to academia.  At the least we hope it will model a type of public discourse other than the competitive shouting or constant sermonizing they are used to.

Of course, another colleague has referred to this as a “nerd-off”.

The plan is that Steve, our Associate Dean Mark, and I are going to attend tomorrows regular Thursday Coffee Hour in the Library and hold a public conversation.  There will be a sign so that people know what is going on and that we really want them to listen in or, even better, to participate.  Our first topic – my idea – is “Postmodernism is dead and I don’t feel so good myself.”

In the afternoon I’m helping Steve cover our colleague Dana’s film class where we are going to have a presentation and discussion of the film “Little Big Man.”  I want to talk about whether subverting one set of myths creates truth, or if it just creates another set of myths.  We are also hoping to get the students to talk about how this otherwise unconventional western has very conventional Hollywood depictions of gender.

This could be the most fun day this semester. 

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No Columbus Day!

Posted by Gerald on October 11, 2007

I’m late, but check this out:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=19495214

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“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Posted by Gerald on October 11, 2007

There have been numerous stories recently about the committee’s vote recognizing the Armenian genocide.  Turkey has condemned it, Armenia has welcomed it, and our President tried to stop it as a threat to our global war on terror.  Here is a summary of the whole thing.

Although not an expert on this subject, I’ve read a great deal on it in recent years and fall into the group that says the Ottoman government did commit genocide on the Armenian people.  After all, no less an expert on genocide than Adolf Hitler cited it himself

If Turkey really wants to join the EU and be the modern democracy it can be it is going to have to face up to this issue.  First it needs to eliminate the laws preventing an open discussion of this matter and it needs to stop threatening other countries for discussing it.  Second, it needs to protect those who espouse the unpopular position in that country that this was, in fact, genocide.  Third, it needs to look this issue squarely in the eye…

… as my country needs to do with its own genocide.

No number of museums, coins, or stamps can change the fact that our country was built on acts of slaughter.  Nor can we turn the clock back and change those things.  We can, however, look squarely at what happened.

We need to recognize, and teach in our schools, that the “westward expansion” was an act of imperial conquest no different than those undertaken by the European powers and far more devastating in its long-term effects.

We need to take meaningful action to redress what can be fixed.  Some first steps would include a settlement of the lawsuits against the Department of the Interior over the mismanagement of native lands and a real dialogue concerning the status of the Black Hills.

We need to address the ongoing oppression and legal discrimination against native peoples.  We do not need the government to try to impose solutions.  We need to provide native peoples with the wherewithal and opportunities to create the solutions THEY decide upon.  We need to get out of the way.

Maybe, once we have dealt with the original sin, we can then move on to the next great sin out country is built on – slavery.  That is for another post.

Once we have done all of this we might have the moral authority to actually say something to Turkey about how it has dealt with its past.

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The Legacy Continues

Posted by Gerald on October 9, 2007

We can see again the legacy that Dubya is going to leave this country.  In the same way that the Marshall court put a Federalist stamp on the country even after the Federalists were gone, the Roberts court is going to promote the unique vision of the bush adminstration even after the jerk is out of the White House.

Our illustrious Justices have refused to hear the case of the German citizen illegally kidnapped by the CIA. 

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Something to Pay Attention To…

Posted by Gerald on October 9, 2007

Over at My Beautiful Wickedness Bridgett is exasperated about how peace activists are being harrassed via a misuse of the criminal databases.

I think this is a really important issue because it can so easily slide “under the radar” and it seems to be doing just that.  I’m sometimes more concerned about how the administration uses this kind of petty tactic than I am some of their more gross violations.  The big things are noticable and are likely to be cleaned up if the Dems manage not to blow the next election.  This kind of small change in regular procedures is the sort of thing that can escape notice and create a chilling effect for a long time.

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Monday

Posted by Gerald on October 8, 2007

During my 8 am class this morning one of my students came up to the front row of the auditorium and stretched out with a pillow and went to sleep.  When I informed her that, as per my syllabus, I was going to count her absent if she slept in my class so she might as well go someplace comfortable, she responded by saying “okay” and packing up and leaving.

I’m still rather dumbstruck by the total contempt this demonstrated for me personally and for my course.

There are days that I really wonder why the hell I bother.

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Long Time No Blog

Posted by Gerald on October 5, 2007

I’ve been really busy and sleep-deprived this week.  Hence no blog posts.

On Sunday one of my colleagues hosted a party for our department chair who got married back in August.  Much wine and beer were consumed and many laughs were had because we are a happy little band of social science instructors.  Unfortunately this set up a kind of domino effect for the rest of my week.  I had to be in for my 8 am class the next morning and I didn’t really get caught back up on sleep until today.

I’ve also been a bit worried this week.  I mentioned in an earlier post that a friend of mine was dealing – again – with cancer.  He went into surgery yesterday.  Happily everything went well, but now we are all just waiting on the results of the biopsy.  Indirectly this meant that I’ve been a bit distracted and depressed this week.  Directly this has also meant that my rather busy teaching schedule just got busier.  My friend teaches several courses including an intro to film class.  He brings in lots of people for his discussions and I’ve been a frequent guest so I could provide some historical context for certain films.  I’m also a movie buff.  Because of all of this I am working with another friend and colleague to cover this course.  I’m happy to do it, but it is four more hours out of my schedule each week.

This weekend is going to be filled with grading, although I am going to visit my friend in the hospital at some point.  We will hit the mid-point in the semester next Tuesday.  My two eight-week classes will finish then.  Wednesday marks the beginning of our Fall Break.  I think if I work all the way through it I will be caught back up in time for when my new eight-week classes start the following Monday.

I also found out I’m on something called the “Long-Range Planning Committee” this week.  That just sounds ominously open-ended to me.

I realized this week that I haven’t read a single piece of fiction (unless you count student essays *rimshot*) in two months.

No news on the dating front.  You would almost think that overweight middle-aged guys weren’t in high demand or something.

I might hold forth sometime this weekend on the new TV season.  Depends on how the grading goes.

As to my usual political stuff: Bush sucks, Putin is dangerous, we ought to get out of Iraq and not get into Iran, insert mandatory anti-GOP Larry Craig joke here, the Dems are wimps, yadda-yadda, blah-blah, woof-woof…

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Free Mammograms

Posted by Gerald on October 1, 2007

Yes I’m a guy, but this should be of interest to any man who has women in his life he cares about. 

A friend of mine sent me a link to a site that provides a free mammogram to women who need one for everyone who clicks on their site each day.  Here is the link:

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=2

Pass it on.

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