Thursday, August 2, 2012

Marco from Memphis And the Story of a Liar.

This morning, a student breathlessly came up to me to explain why she missed our final exam review session. She'd had a car wreck, she had whiplash, her family's only car was destroyed. She was nearly in tears.

Relax, said I, I will take time after I'm finished my other final and help you sort through the material. We'll call it a special review session.

She looked like she might hug me, her beatific smile warmed me. I was getting through to them; I was helping. I was going the extra mile (like the Adminiflakes ask us).

Still feeling good about myself, an hour later, I overheard that student and another while they stood in line at the coffee shop on campus:

Other: Did you say you had a car wreck this week?
Student: Oh, I said that. But I didn't. I just skipped class. I told the teacher that because I found out I missed all the review.
Other: Funny.
Student: Yeah, but I did total my car once, so I knew what to say.

Guess who's not going to make that special review session?

Greg from Greensboro And the Job Misery.

I have a vague acquaintance in a department at a nearby 4 year school. It's an okay place, and I usually keep my eye on their job openings.

6 weeks ago they announced a full time t-t spot. The same day I got a call from the department chair about the position. She'd gotten my name from my acquaintance, and asked if I'd be applying. I told her I would, and hand delivered my letter, vita, sample of scholarship, and student evaluations the next day.

2 days later I had a phone interview with three members of the department, and then a week later I was asked to campus.

They were hiring late because of an unexpected retirement. They department was friendly, the campus pretty, and the Dean came by during my lunch to tell me that he'd heard wonderful things about me.

I went back to my shitty apartment and began imagining packing my belongings up and moving the 30 miles up the road to the big school. (I've been on a contingent full time contract at a community college for 6 years.)

The search chair called me one more time, 2 weeks ago. Sorry for the delay, just crossing some t's, etc. Will call tomorrow with the news. Everyone was knocked out by me.

A week passed. 5 more days passed.

Yesterday, I got an email that started:

"Dear undisclosed-recipient: Thank you for your application, but our position in Xxxxxxx has been filled."


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stop with the Cutco Presentations, please!

Email from a student:


Dear Dr. Cynic: I hope you are having a good summer. I know that you want me to succeed and the only way I can do that is to make money over the summer by selling Cutco products. If you aren't familiar with Cutco products, they are wonderful. I would like to make an appointment to show you the beauty that is Cutco. I know you can benefit from Cutco and I can benefit from getting the income so I can come back to school in the Fall.


Please let me know when you will be in your office so I can come over to show you these beautiful knives and kitchen utensils.


Sincerely,
Earnest Student


-----


Dear Earnest:


I hope you are having a good summer, too. Stop hitting me up for money, please. I cannot bear the burden of such requests. 


Besides, I know the beauty that is Cutco because I have nine Cutco knives, all of which are fabulous (except the pie scooper/spatula/spreader thingie; I could do without that, but I only bought it because it was the cheapest item during a sales pitch). These nine different Cutco knives are from nine different student presentations I have sat through nine times in the past. Yes, they are all from nine other students like you, trying to earn money for college (granted, one of them was my roommate). In all honesty, I believe I could do the Cutco sales pitch by heart now. While I wish you well in the future, and I hope you earn lots of money for tuition, I simply do not need another knife or kitchen/garden/hunting utensil, and I cannot (CANNNNOT!) sit through another presentation to make it ten for fear that I would use one of the knives in a desperate move to end the presentation. 


Moreover, I only cook when I absolutely have to: once a year when my department head decrees that we bring home-cooked items to our Christmas potluck. And when I do cook, it's usually to make my specialty of egg salad (no knives needed) or to bake (again, no knives needed). I am sorry, but my annual foray into the culinary arts does not make the price tag of a $180 knife worth it when I have nine others that do their jobs perfectly well. 


If Cutco ever sells candy, hit me up: I have a jar (and a mouth) in my office that can ALWAYS be filled!


Good luck!


Sincerely,
Dr. Cynic

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Early Thirsty from Fab.


Recently a 45 year old friend of mine got her BA. She did the whole thing, all the ceremonies. Then a bunch of us got rip roaring drunk, made it home in time to pay the babysitters and oldest teenagers double rates and  had a pool party at a neighbors, where all of us ONLY wore gowns and caps.

Q: When Was the Last Time You Enjoyed Watching Someone Graduate?

I've gotten so old, I forgot my own schtick

Tip toes lost?  Tarp ton lust?  Top Ten List?  Hey, that sounds catchy.

Let's first talk about misery.

Their lying. Our hard work. Their cheating. Our Drinking.

Wait, am I talking about being a professor? Hell no, That's country music. Funny that you should get them confused.  But now that gets me to thinking. Most professors might think that they and country music are like this:

                             O                                            O

That's a Venn diagram.

There's a lot in country music that y'all might appreciate. It's about upholding traditional values (think standards of conduct in your classroom).  There's also themes about mama, trains, trucks, prison, getting drunk and the misuse of MLA formatting.  OK, I made up that last one.  Trust me.  It's like ol' Hank wrote his songs about us.

Shit, where was I going with this?  Oh, yeah.  A top ten list.

Top Ten Country Songs for College Faculty (links are to actual songs)

10. He Stopped Attending Her Class Today
9.  Where Were You (When You Should Have Been Studying)
8.  If You’ve Got the Money, We’ve Got the Tuition Bill 
7.  Have I Told You Lately That You Won’t Pass My Class
6.  I’m So Underpaid I Could Cry 
5.  Folsom County Community College Adjunct Blues
3.  I Am a Student of Constant Excuses 
2.  Blue Eyes Cryin’ for Extra Credit
1.  Stand By Your Syllabus 

I hope y'all drank as much reading this as I did writing it.


The New Math...1 M.A. + 0 Money=Misery!!!


You can do the math:  1 non working spouse on very low unemployment check for 1.5 months already.  End of part time retail job that helped make ends meet.  0 income for month of August on my end.  5 classes that equal less than $10,000 for the fall.  Living in one of the most expensive areas of the country.  All this equals---misery.   

The “F” word (foreclosure aka Judgment Day) is coming.  We bought a money pit, so it's actually a relief, but dealing with all the stuff is exhausting.  This has been going on since the semester ended. 

This is also destroying my dream of the Ph.D.  I suspect finding a job at Craptastic Community College will do more for us right now.  We can go anywhere, so where is living cheap?  Ideas, anyone? 

Job searching was the last thing on my mind before I fell asleep last night, and it led to an awesome dream.  The job was at a lovely SLAC for a great salary, with CM'ers on the hiring panel!  Hiram and I shared bafflement over americanus studentus.  Beaker Ben brought chemical goodies.  Strelnikov offered to dispose of bodies.  Bubba offered me bourbon.  Emergency Mathematical Hologram gave me the Virtual Teaching Assistant for grading, and Stella was our Smackdown Dean. 

And then I woke up…..’nuff said.  

The Obsolescence Question. From Inside Higher Ed.

By Jonathan Rees

When’s the last time an ice deliveryman visited your home? Have you ever talked to a telephone switchboard operator? Thanks to new technologies, these once-common occupations passed into history many years ago now. Bank tellers and travel agents are not completely obsolete, but substantially fewer people are employed in these lines of work than in the past for similar reasons.

Will new developments in Internet-based communications technology do similar things to college professors? Perhaps people like me will face the same trouble finding employment that newspaper reporters or piano tuners face nowadays. Or perhaps MOOCs will eliminate the need for professors almost entirely, allowing students to flock to courses offered by a smattering of "super-professors" while computers, graduate students and adjuncts do all the grading that once occupied so much of an analog instructor’s time.


Read more.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Even though it is Monday, I am Thirsty. How Would YOU respond?


With the exception of names being changed to protect----well, to protect our identities, I am copying the following e-mail word for word.  I just received it. 

Hi Professor Bella, 
I am Contacting you to let you know that I will be missing the first 1 or 2 weeks of class due to the fact that I will be getting surgery the week before, So I thought it was in my interest to let you know this information ahead of time.

Sincerely

I am an Idiot

Sid from Santa Fe on "Individualized Instruction."

I'm Rick!
Rick just dropped my summer class. Here at the Worst Juco in America, one can take 11 weeks of a 12 week summer class and still take the W.

And Rick took his W this morning.

Now, for the 11 weeks he was with us, he dominated class. He never missed an opportunity to talk over others, so much so that I had to keep him after 3 different classes to tell him to ease up and let others have the chance. His most momentous response to this was: "No way. These students don't care. If they would, they'd talk. I care. I need this class. I want to learn. You should teach the interested ones!"

He also loved to dispute or question assignments, regardless of how innocuous the guidelines might be.

He had a particular fondness for going after me in class for word counts.

"Why 500 words? Will you fail me if I write 499 or 501? What if I do what I want to do and turn in 5000?"

"Well," I'd start, "there are all kinds of reasons for word counts, sometimes it's about the level of detail I want you to use on a thesis, other times it has to do with offering reasonable limits to help you safeguard writing 5000 words when they aren't necessary."

It was constant. The 11 weeks dragged. People would roll their eyes when he started things like: "I don't get why I have to use MLA style. What if I don't care about documenting my sources? That should be my prerogative. Maybe while you're writing research papers I want to write a feature article like the ones in magazines I read." (Oh, don't ask. I was horrified to learn what mags he wanted to emulate.)

"I feel as if you've dampened all the creativity out of this class," he said one day. "You're all about rules, and I'm about language!"

As I was walking to class this morning, Rick was headed the other way.

"Hey, Sid," he said. "I've dropped the class. Got some stuff that's more important to me than finishing up the work I'm late on. Plus, I'm a little pissed that I didn't get individualized instruction and attention."

"Gaw," I said. "Smerghhh, ugggggggh."

"Like it says on the TV commercials. Right? Individualized instruction. Learn at your own pace. You don't follow that. Still, it was fun debating with you."

And then he was gone.


Students Love the Social Media! From MSNBC.

Kent State University police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old student after he sent a message out on Twitter saying he planned to "shoot up" campus.

William Koberna, 19, was arrested at his parents' Brunswick home Sunday following the threatening message sent on the social media site.

Koberna has been charged with inducing panic, a felony, and aggravated menacing related to the tweet. He will be arraigned at 1:15 p.m. Monday.

Brunswick police executed an arrest warrant at Koberna's home late Sunday afternoon and took him into custody without incident.

The sophomore will be arraigned in court on Monday. He also faces university hearings that can result in his suspension or dismissal.

"Any threat to our campus community is taken seriously and immediately investigated," said Kent State University President Lester Lefton. "Our students, employees, and all those who come to campus should know that their safety is our top priority."

Stats.


50% Increase in Grading Misery

I've written before about being a grader for the upcoming fall semester. The semester hasn't even started yet, but the misery is already deepening.

The class was originally slated to have an enrollment of 80. Since the proffie, with his rep for being "easy," is quite popular, the class filled up at the beginning of the registration period. About 40 additional students signed up on the wait-list.

I just visited the university's course info website to check the schedule of another course that I'm taking, and found out that the powers-that-be have increased the size of the course I'm grading for to 120. All of the wait-listed students have been allowed to enroll. Now, instead of grading papers for 80 students, I'm apparently going to grade for 120. No big deal, just a 50% increase in my workload.

To quote Beaker Ben: "I don't like students. Why would I want more of them in my class?" Oh, right, because it isn't *my* class, it isn't my decision. I'm just the one doing the lion's share of the work.

I wonder if this means I'm going to receive a corresponding 50% increase in my meager stipend? Hahaha, I crack myself up.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"College professors ‘fight’ over class timings." Those Mumbai Proffies are Crazzy!

Two professors allegedly came to blows in the staff room of Ismail Yusuf College in Jogeshwari over the issue of timing of lectures. One of them had to be hospitalized with an injured arm.

While the injured professor alleged that he was beaten up by a senior colleague, eyewitnesses in the college claimed that he got hurt when he tried lift a chair to hit the latter.

On Wednesday morning, as D Khare entered his second year BCom class, he was asked to wait by W K Acharya, who was already teaching there. "I called my head of the department and there was an argument. The matter was settled and, after lectures, I went to the staff room. There, we again had an argument. The senior professor then hurled a chair at me," said Khare.

Khare was rushed to Cooper Hospital and he also filed a complaint with the Jogeshwari police after the assault.

However, professor Acharya said, "There was a minor argument. He is trying to blow it out of proportion. He, in fact, tried to lift the chair and hit me when he got a sprain."

A police officer who visited the college said: "Witnesses said Khare got injured when he tried to lift a chair. We have, however, taken his complaint."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chick-fil-A Controversy: University Of Louisville Students Protest To Remove On-Campus Fast Food Joint. From HuffPo.

University of Louisville students cannot use Chick-fil-A sauce in good conscience.

Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A's president, has long supported groups that fight against LGBT rights, spending millions through their charitable arm WinShape. However, earlier this month in an interview with the Baptist Press, when asked about his rumored bias against same-sex marriage rights, Cathy responded "guilty as charged."

Then in another interview on "The Ken Coleman Show", Cathy said "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about."

MORE.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I don't like students. Why would I want more of them in my class?

Allow me to provide some advice to you, a student trying to register for my general chemistry class which is already filled. You typically stop by my office at the worst possible time (e.g. while I’m in it). There are 10% more of you this fall than last year but the same number of classes offered. I shouldn’t hold that against you but I can. Sometimes I do.

First, if you are registered for any general chemistry class, even the one with a 4 pm lecture and 8 am lab with the crazy guy from Turkmenistan we just hired, consider yourself lucky that you have a class at all. You might not be able to understand what he says, but, um, well, I’m pretty sure that you won’t be able to understand what he says.

Now, I appreciate your efforts to help me by showing up with all four of your friends, asking that all of you be added to the same class, which is already over-filled. I can say, “No.” just once. Actually, you still bitch, beg and complain enough that I have to say it four times, but at least your group visit saves me from saying it four times to each of you. I may be an asshole but I’m an efficient one.


For all you sophomores who want to register two weeks before my freshman class starts, you really should know better. You had all spring to sign up when the classes were empty. Now you have your class conflicts and your work schedule conflicts and whatever other problems you kept talking about after I stopped listening. As I said before, we are at capacity. I don’t have any desire to add another student who doesn’t have her shit together.

By all means, bring your mom to our meeting so she can tell me what type of professor you need to get the most out of college. Let me guess, somebody who is talented and experienced in teaching and above all else, cares about the success of students? Hmm. I know all our faculty pretty well and I can assure that that you’ll be lucky to get two of the three.

Yes, you can stomp out of my office and go see my department head and the dean about this. Let me give you directions to their office. Do you think I’d be a hard ass if I didn’t think they had my back?

Above all else, please go away and return only when I’m under contract and actually being paid to deal with you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dorm Dancin' #3. A VidShizzle.


A Friday Thirsty Just as it Arrived.

angsds 'n drink

(Maybe this is an Thursday Thirst, who knows. Up to you).
Deep questions (written in a alcohol-laden haze),
1) If you are in a bar, and the waiter is one of your students, can
you still get drunk?
2) How much are you to tip?
3) Being hur a 9, are salacious comments about the waiter/-ss to your
co-drinkers absolutely out of place?

My answers 1) of course you can, 2) like a drunken pirate, 3) it's ok
as long of hu does not hear any of it.

English Job Market.

07/25/2012
Strayer University (Florida): ADJUNCT FACULTY IN ENGLISH- Tampa East Campus
Strayer University (Wisconsin): ADJUNCT FACULTY IN ENGLISH- Milwaukee, WI Campus

07/24/2012
Strayer University (North Carolina): ADJUNCT FACULTY IN ENGLISH

07/23/2012
Strayer University (Virginia): ADJUNCT FACULTY IN ENGLISH
Chaminade University of Honolulu(Hawaii): Lecturer in English




Q: Who's excited?

Maybelle is knee deep in Misery

I have picked up stakes and moved to a completely new culture/place. It's quite the adjustment. I feel like I have landed on Mars.

The pay at my new job, with all the work and CONSTANT emails from the admins about what to include to be compliant with New University Standards, even without stepping foot in a classroom, is looking like I might be earning less than a dollar an hour by the time I'm done with this course.

In order to meet all the admin requirements, which I got three days ago, I have to completely redesign the course. I also have to learn a completely new LMS. The LMS would be more intuitive, but IT doesn't have very good handouts or explanations of, well, anything. I was given wrong passwords and wrong URLs. I'm tech savvy, and the handouts were outdated. No one at New Job believed me until I CCed the chair. Funny how my emails got answered faster after that ....

I also was informed about the Mandatory Faculty Meeting and Mandatory LMS Training ... while I was still employed at Old Job and in the Old State. Now I have been officially marked absent for both Mandatory events, even though I read all the material and have incorporated all the Mandatory Elements.

I have Other Misery from my Old Job, but I need to let those wounds heal before I open them up again. Needless to say, I left Old Job feeling bitter, jaded, and humiliated.

More MOOC Misery

This may be flogging a dead horse, but following from the earlier posts about Massive Open Online Courses, Marc Bousquet nicely summed it up on the Chronic.

Flava:

If institutions really wanted to sustain participatory learning, they would already be doing so, for instance, by reducing lectures and high-stakes testing, investing in teaching-intensive faculty and the like. Instead, driven less by cost concerns than a desire to standardize and control both faculty and curriculum, administrations rely more than ever on lectures and tests.

It’s hard to imagine that an education vendor, particularly one driven by profit, will do more than use Siemens’s and Downes’s excellent, sincere efforts as a tissue-paper justification for passing off cheap “social media opportunities” as a substitute for sustained interaction with working professional academics.

Oy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. From Harvard Business Review.

by Kyle Wiens


If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss's more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar "stickler." And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a "zero tolerance approach" to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have "zero tolerance." She thinks that people who mix up their itses "deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave," while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin.


MORE

Texas A&M Students Form Human Wall To Block Westboro Baptist Church Protestors. From HuffPo.


Hundreds of Texas A&M students gathered this week to form a human wall around the funeral service of a soldier to protect his family from Westboro Baptist Church protesters, KBTX.com reports.
texas aggies
Texas A&M alum Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale died on June 28 during a safety briefing at Fort Bragg, N.C. Tisdale was killed by another soldier who then fatally shot himself.
Tisdale had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the days after the soldier's death, word spread that Westboro Baptist Church members were planning to protest Tisdale's funeral.
Described as a "homophobic and anti-Semitic hate group" by the Anti-Defamation League, Westboro Baptist Church regularly stages protests around the country.

Politics Suck.

I'm not a big political guy. I have my preferences, and I vote, and that's about that. I don't get into arguments with people about Whozits or Whatzhisname.

But over the summer I've been making a few trips around the Midwest and to that end I've watched the news on TV in a number of different cities. I've heard talk radio people in the car as I drive. I'm reading newspapers most mornings at the IHOP or Denny's. (And enjoying silver dollar pancakes at one and Grand Slams at the other!)

And I'm just convinced that politics suck, and that politicians - generally - have given up any pretense that they're working for us or trying to make things better.

Every battle is partisan. Every volley - no matter how small - is slammed back with indignation. There is so much vitriol on both sides that I doubt anyone is trying to fix the country. They're just all trying to win their little battles. And they are trying to do it while making fun of the goofs in the other party.

I don't see any evidence of anyone willing to put aside party differences to simply act in the best interests of the whole country. I don't believe there's anything that our current political climate that can make anything better.

I am 99% sure I'm politically naive, and that the above modest complaint is awfully simple minded.

But I was thinking of all of it in terms of my students, my poor, poor students, and the world we are turning over to them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dr. Adjunct Gets an Admisery Email.

The following is an email which I received today regarding a current course. Part of the university rules require instructors to post attendance into a second system for access by the adminicritters.

[+]

Dear Dr. Adjunct,

I noticed that you marked Nonattending Snowflake as attending class
yesterday. However, she had told us that she would not be able to attend
classes this term and she has not attended any classes since the term
began. Nonattending Snowflake is being charged a "no show" rate until
she is withdrawn (while failing) automatically from the system.

Sincerely,
Dubious Dean


[+]

Now, seriously, what university in the world (other than this one) would prefer to keep a student enrolled when the student has said that she would not be attending (to administratium and not her instructors, mind you)? I can't think of a reason why other than the green shit which leaks from the United Socialist States of America government in the form of "student loans."

Missing Posts.

We pulled two recent article links after being contacted by a reporter for the publication to which we linked.

Monday, July 23, 2012

See? Wikipedia really is written at the level of a shitty undergrad essay.

Let me get this straight: so the goal of this course is to get *undergraduate* research posted on Wikipedia...so it can be considered "expert knowledge" and promptly plagiarized by other lazy undergrads?!

Shove over, Bubba.  Imma need some of that bourbon.


Some Good Ol' Smack


Received this email last week:

I just wanted to apologize for getting back to you so late, I have had a terrible week! I had everything ready wednesday to post my topic and right when I started writing it the track pad on my macbook froze! So I had to take it in to the Apple Store, luckily they were very quick fixing it. Unfortunatly the Apple Store is in a very upscale mall inside of a casino, which is not in a very good neighborhood. When I was walking back to my car with my laptop I was attacked by a crazy homeless man and I broke my hand! Ughhhhh!!!! I'm so mad, it's really depressing, and it hurts ALOT! They didn't give me any pain medicine and the ER wouldn't set it for me, they just put me in a temp cast and told me I need to see a specialist, but he won't see me because I have no insurance! I'm sooo frustrated! But I wrote this paper with a broken hand, I know it isn't perfect and I apologize, I am just in too much pain to revise it. Sometimes my professors tell me that they can't see my papers because I use open office, so i will copy it to the bottom incase it doesn't come up for you. I attached a picture of me in this temp cast THAT I HATE!!!!!! That is me pretending to be happy that I have this thing on. It could be a lot worse I guess. I keep laughing that its my last class, its almost like I have to fight my way through it now! Sorry again!


Oh, Dearie Donald, I'm so sorry to hear about your hand. The timing your computer chose for its demise is exceedingly unfortunate. I know that if my laptop were to die, there could be simply no way to contact my professor for about 2 weeks. Indeed, I would probably sit on my front lawn, tears streaming down my face, until the laptop took pity on me and woke up on its own.

But that's not all!! Oh, why do these Apple Stores always choose terrible neighborhoods for their stores? It's probably because their target demographic is homeless people and thugs. I know that's who is always stealing the macbooks on campus, so clearly the Apple Store is doing its job by setting up shop in a bad neighborhood. If you think about it, it's probably good business sense -- you buy the computer, someone steals it outside, so you go buy another computer. That Steve Jobs! Genius.

But, OH! The pain. Your attack made my heart jump into my mouth. How terrifying! And for you especially. No insurance? Even though our University makes students either buy into student insurance or prove that they are already insured elsewhere? Exactly how did you avoid this paperwork nightmare? Very clever of you.

And now, your picture. Oh, Darling Donald, the picture of you grinning with your cast is so bittersweet. I see your hidden pain! And your choice to wear a sweater with Valentine's Day decorations even though it's mid-summer makes me wince. How emotionally fragile you must be to keep the love in the air year round. Because I completely believe that this picture was taken when you say it was. I really, truly do.

With all my heart, I hope you are able to heal fast. Surely you must be my best student or something something something get over yourself I hope the University never allows you to graduate don't ever email me again.

Best,
AdMonk

Sunday, July 22, 2012

College courses free online.

Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng share a vision in which anyone, no matter how destitute, can expand their minds and prospects with lessons from the world's top universities.

That dream was joined this week by a dozen vaunted academic institutions including Duke University, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

The schools will add online versions of classes to Coursera.org, a website launched by Stanford University professors Koller and Ng early this year with debut offerings from Princeton, Stanford and two other US universities.

"We have a vision where students everywhere around the world, regardless of country, family circumstances or financial circle have access to top quality education whether to expand their minds or learn valuable skills," Koller said.

"Where education becomes a right, not a privilege."


Saturday, July 21, 2012

College Professors Fearful of Online Education Growth. From USNews.com.

By RYAN LYTLE

Online education continues its meteoric rise on college campuses, and many faculty members are frightened by its growth and prevalence, notes a recent study by Inside Higher Ed and the Babson Survey Research Group, which has spent more than a decade studying online education.

The report, which surveyed 4,564 faculty members, reveals that 58 percent of respondents "described themselves as filled more with fear than with excitement" over the growth of online courses within higher education.

FULL ARTICLE.

Calvin and Hobbes and the modern university.

This morning`s Globe has (yet) another piece on how online courses will clear out all those lazy tenured bums and bring edjumakashun to the masses.  It reminded me that recently Calvin became president of a new university on the customer model...

Still a few bugs to work out in the marketing department.

I turns out that the marketplace can be pretty demanding but Calvin resorts to creative accounting practices to boost the bottom line.


In the end, however, Free Enterprise is once again crushed by blatant government over-regulation.



Friday, July 20, 2012


Aurora Shooter Was PhD Dropout.

Aurora Shooter
James Holmes, 24.
from Yahoo.com

Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes was in the process from withdrawing from a doctorate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver, according to university spokesman Dan Myers. Holmes began the program last year.

This photo, obtained by ABC News, reportedly shows the 24-year-old Holmes. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes' apartment is booby trapped with a "sophisticated" maze of flammable devices. It could take hours or days for authorities to disarm it. Five nearby buildings have been evacuated. Oates said Holmes had no criminal record in the state.

Holmes' family, who live in San Diego, released a statement expressing their sadness for the victims and asking for privacy. Holmes is suspected of walking into an Aurora theater's midnight showing of "Dark Knight Rises" wearing a gas mask and bullet proof vest and shooting at at least 50 people. Twelve are reported dead.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saga of the Chair.

For 6 years, I sat in a chair that would nearly tip over if I sat too far back. It didn't move up or down but was, luckily, stuck at a proper height. It was square, with faded light blue upholstery and rusted metal legs and arms. The chair cushion was stained from coffee, cookie crumbs, and chocolate bars. It was not comfortable, but it wasn't painful to sit there. I inherited from my predecessor. Who knows how old it really was. I have never seen one like it before in any office supply store.

When I asked for a new chair, I was told: "We could buy you one, but let's get one from surplus instead."

My new-to-me chair won't move up or down. I have a choice of sitting on the floor, or sitting hunched over like Bartleby the Scrivener, banging my knees into the edge of my desk. I should have kept Old Chair. At least, I knew what I had with Old Chair.

"Let's get you back on that surplus list. Maybe another batch of chairs will turn up soon. "

Guess I will be heading over to the local Office Despot to shell out some hard earned summer school money.

-Kunstnik

The Nattering Nincompoops of Notational Neurosis

"Hey Prof, I blew off class yesterday due to an unfortunate partying injury (looonnng story). Can you e-mail me your personal lecture notes right away? Thanks."

"Trees felled by a freak tornado blocked my commuting route today, and then demented mimes came out of nowhere and boxed me into my parking spot (I couldn't break through their invisible glass), so I couldn't get to class. Is there a note taker in the class who can send me typed notes? I'll be LOST without them!"

"I had to have emergency brain surgery yesterday but I'm all better now. Will you post notes online for what I missed?"


"My family forced me to go on vacation in the middle of the term, so I had to skip two weeks of class. Any chance of getting those notes? I'll DIE without them."

Notes. Notes. NOTES. Is this frenzy over "notes" happening to you, too? This desperate and at times nearly insane demand for the sacred keys called "notes"? Without which the course material is nothing but one maliciously contrived riddle after another?

Hmmm, let's see. They could try, dunno, reading the assigned material? Maybe even spending two paltry minutes doing a bit of online research beyond the book, in between multiple FB checks and porno breaks? Preparing specific questions on the material to show remorse and then making an appointment to see me in penance? Asking a classmate what we covered? Or doing the best thing and building a time machine and going back in time to the missed class and making sure never to miss class again as attendance is a solemn obligation according to my law? But, no, it has to be the Holy Notes, without which the entire cosmos is just a heap of cold unintelligibility.

Whence this helplessness concerning and distortion of the nature of the scholarly enterprise, and one's role as an accountable agent?

(The line about "the class note taker" is a real line from a real student. What class note taker? As though I have a hunchbacked medieval scribe I drive into the classroom every day with a flog so he can prepare the Divine Communion of Notes or Divina Signa for the convenience of all truants.)


The Keelhaul

Hello, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  You plagiarized. 

Did you think I was talking out of my ass when I had you read all that shit about plagiarism, and made you sign a contract stating that you wouldn’t do it, and that you understood you would fail the class if you did?  I don’t ever talk out of my ass, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class. Though you have persisted in treating me like I’m your “bestie,” I have been deadly serious with you since you begged me to bump the cap for you three weeks ago.  If you recall then I wouldn’t bump the cap.  What makes you think I will spare you now?

Hello again, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Your sob story is not making me sob.  In fact, it is making me even happier about giving you that F you so richly deserve.  Do you think I fucking care that “all hell broke lose” at your house last night?  You want to know what I was doing last night?  I was weeping onto a broken flashlight at 2 a.m., trying to get it working so that I could go look for my beloved little dog.  She ran off instead of doing her business when I let her outside.  That fucking dog runs off if you don’t keep her in line, but I was not watching carefully because I had made the grave error of getting myself a glass of milk.  She is a little shit but I love that dog.  So there I was, driving around in the dark, searching for her.  She was in the driveway when I got home, and I was so happy that I forgot to be mad at her.  But I was still crying.  It took a trazodone, a Xanax, and a bunch of Kahlua and vodka dumped into that glass of milk to get me calmed down.  So go fuck yourself with your excuse about “all hell breaking loose”.  Go fuck yourself sideways.

I care even less, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, about your claim that you panicked and sent me a different file than you intended to send.  Do you know how often plagiarists use that excuse?  Do you even know?  It’s what they all revert to.  “Oh, I sent you my notes!” “Oh, I was so tired and I just made a mistake!” You’re a fucking liar. And you’re not even an interesting liar.  You’re just the same old boring Type-O liar I’ve seen a thousand times before.

And no, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, I don’t care that you’re a “mature” student in middle age.  This only means you should know better. 

No, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, I don’t care that you are begging.  This only means you are pathetic.

No, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, I don’t care that you need this course to graduate.  This only means that you shouldn’t graduate.

No, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, I don’t care that you promise “not to let me down” if I just let you go one more time.  This only means that you are delusional, or living in some alternate universe where there is a version of me that gives a shit about what happens to a lying plagiarist. 

In fact, your promise that you won’t “let me down” is the very source of your complete lack of understanding about our relationship and your situation.  You presume wrongly in that you think you have the ability to let me down.  I had no hopes for you.  I did not have faith in you. You were worthless from the get-go and you’re still worthless.  Forever and ever, world without end. 

So, Student That Is Going to Receive an “F” in My Online Sophomore Survey Class, shut your fucking face and prepare to be dragged under the hull. 

You fail.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Instinctual Self-Defense Class for College-Bound Females." A Thirsty Article from Vicki in Van Nuys.

Some sobering statistics about the number of rapes on college campuses and the fact that Leslie Maltz’s daughter was heading to one, prompted her to start a self-defense workshop for college-bound high school girls at her Tarzana gym.

On Sunday, Maltz will hold a 2-hour workshop to empower young women with techniques to protect themselves from becoming a rape statistic.

She uses the Krav Maga self-defense techniques and common sense awareness drills to drive home the message that today is a different world than years ago and college is a petri dish of potential rape scenarios.

FULL ARTICLE from the Encino/Tarzana Patch.

[+]

Q: I remember being a naive and careless young woman in my college "daze." It never occurred to me that there was the threat of rape or assault on a large campus. What are your own thoughts about the safety of female students on our campuses?

Teacher Misery.

Teacher MiseryTeacher Misery, a new blog, has come to save the sanity of teachers everywhere! 

The moderator describes it as "A safe place for teachers to anonymously vent about other teachers, administration, low pay, snowflake students, helicopter parents, no respect, no time to pee and anything else that we must endure."



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things I Really Didn't Want to Know


Sheldon Secretary:  Just because you said you had cooties and I was sympathetic because my aunt had them too doesn't mean I am now your medical confidant. It's fine to tell me how you're doing. I ask, however, that you remember the initials after my name are PhD, not MD.  I don't need your entire medical history and all the sordid details of your last eight doctor visits. When I left the office, I couldn't believe you followed me down the hall and into the elevator! Thank goodness you didn't have a key to my car. I honestly think you would have come home with me if you could have.

Post-Partum Patty: You've given birth in the middle of the semester. Congratulations on your new arrival! Of course I will give you an extension on the assignment. The play-by-play on your episiotomy and subsequent infection was way, way TMI. I will not be preserving your email for posterity. I guess I should count myself lucky you didn't send pictures.

Adulterous Associate Professor:  We've been great colleagues for many years. I consider your wife to be a friend as much as I do you. Confiding in me that a) you have a hottie in your class, b) said hottie has been hitting on you, c) your wife isn't putting out like she used to, and d) you're actually thinking of taking up hottie on her offer after the semester is over "so it will be more ethical" has given me a giant case of the squicks.  How many times have we talked about a couple of colleagues who have pulled this crap? Do you honestly think you're better than they are just because you won't do it in exchange for a grade? And how do I look your wife in the eye next time we all meet for coffee?

After a week of revelations like these, I wish I could just sneak into the building, teach my class, and sneak out to the bar. Or maybe I could just skip the first two steps.

The Oarmaster

Hello, Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Yes I know you want in.  That’s why I am addressing you as “Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.”  Unfortunately, there are no spaces left in my class.  I do not care that you will be “eternally grateful” if I let you in.   Would you spontaneously decide to devote hours and hours of your life to me, someone you’ve never met, just for my convenience and just because I asked?  No?  I thought not.  Why do you expect the same of me?  I don’t let anyone in over the cap. Ever.  Unless you are a personal friend or a student so blessed with insight that I am inclined to learn something from you (which never happens, because students I am inclined to learn something from have their shit together), you can’t get in. 

But here’s a little tip, Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  If you check your computer every ten minutes during the add/drop period, I can almost assure you a space.  Because once the other students see my syllabus and contract, many of them will abandon ship, and there will be an oar waiting just for you.

Hello again, Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Yes I know you still want in.  So, you’ve checked “three whole times” to see if any student has dropped.  It’s not the add/drop period, though, Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  And “three whole times” will not be enough.  You will need to sit by your computer, for two whole days, checking and rechecking, during the add/drop period.  And you know what? I don’t care that you used to adjunct at Very Important Lower State University.  I flick boogers at Very Important Lower State University, and I flick boogers at you for thinking that this will impress me.  Besides, you’re lying.  How do I know?  I just do, Student That Wants Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  You’re an idiot.  And even though they do indeed employ idiots at Very Important Lower State University, I don’t think even they would employ you.

Hello, Student That Got Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Yes, I see you got in.  See how easy that was?  Just follow directions, that’s all.  And no, I don’t think God had anything to do with it. 

Hello, Student That Got Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Yes I saw your effusive email thanking me for my “help” in critiquing your homework.  You won’t be thanking me when I fail you.  No, then you will be pleading with me for extra credit, telling me once again how you were an adjunct at Very Important Lower State University, so you “know how it is”.  You will tell me again how you desperately need to pass the class to get your degree, et cetera, et cetera.

Stop bothering me, Student That Got Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  You have only turned in half the work assigned so far, and have not followed any of the directions.  Your essays are half the required size they need to be.  You’ve taken huge swathes of text from the reading and dropped them down into your own work without citing properly. You have not treated your essay, as per the instructions, as a closed-book test. You’ve also decided to complete your essays in question and answer format, which makes them not essays at all.

You, Student That Got Into My Online Sophomore Summer Class, are one of those students that think they can get whatever they want just by being polite.  Saying “please” and “thank you”.  By treating your teacher as if she is your friend.  I ain’t your friend, Student that Got Into My Online Sophomore Survey Class.  Your unctuous smiles and your toadying behavior will get you less than nowhere.

Because what I am is your oarmaster. And if you keep fucking around I’m going to throw you overboard.