Thursday, February 28, 2013

An EEEEvil Grammarian?

So I'm grading midterms, harried as usual.

Grading midterms is always an oppressive experience.  Right up to that moment, I am always convinced the class is brilliant, that they have learned everything I have taught, that everything is going so well. Comes the exam, well.


There I am grading away, harried and grieved, yanking at my hair (which I have cut even shorter) while I mutter in exasperation ("How can that be a participial phrase?  How?  It's not even remotely a verbal!") when the kid comes to sit at the table with me.

The Kid: I really like your hair like that.

Me: Thanks.  Me, too.  It's very handy.

The Kid:  I mean how it's gone grey like that -- right there in that one patch?  Where you part it?

Me:  Um.  Okay?

The Kid: It makes you look like a Supervillain.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Is This Time The Worst Time Of The Year?

Oh yes, my precious.

It's SELF-EVALUATION TIME here at the University In the Fort.

We all know it's coming, of course.  We've known it's coming all year.  In theory, this means we could have spent all year gathering our data and writing our narratives and prepping our indicies and blah fucking fap fap fap.

But in ACTUAL FACT, we all (okay, me, at least) waited until this morning (the fucking thing is due Friday) to even open the fucking file with the fucking forms in it.

God, do I hate self-evaluations.

Because why?

Because it's fap-fap-fap, that's why.  Who's going to look at this?  Me and my chair and  my dean.

Maybe the Provost.  (Probably not.  He's got a couple hundred faculty members.  Why would he bother to look at mine?)

Certainly no one else.

It's something we have to do because otherwise we might not be doing it, and then how would "they" know if we were doing anything with our time?

All that luxurious time they pay us for?

I mean, we have to be accountable, right?  We have to be assessed, right?

How can that be done if there aren't forms and those forms aren't filled out and those filled-out forms aren't filed and put on some sort of fucking pie chart and probably Power Point Presentation to show us next fall at our fucking useless in-school conference?


So that's what I've been doing all day.

And a lot of cussing.  As you probably guessed.

Such a good use of my man-hours.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

No, Just Go For A Run, Sweetie. And Maybe Pray A Little!

I gotta say I'm with the Bloggess on this one: the notion that if you're hurt, or injured, or ill, you shouldn't take medication to help with that problem, but should tough it out instead, wow.

(Or worse, here in Arkansas, we just use Jesus.)

The article the Bloggess links to, "Xanax Helps Me Be A Better Mom," is snidely critical of parents who take anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety medications, to deal with depression and anxiety issues.

Apparently exercise and talk therapy and being a better person is all you need.  Oh, and locking yourself in your laundry room in your split-level colonial home with the dryer running for about 20 minutes.  Because that'll do the trick, I guess.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who Let The Girls In?

Maybe I'm a little touchy about this due to the women's lit class I'm teaching these days, but wow, what an agglomeration of asshats are swarming the internets these days.

First this guy, over a t Strange Horizon, sighing with exasperation in the comments to Kelly Rose Pflug-Back's post-apocalyptic story, "The Clover Still Grows Wild in Wawanosh," that he is "tired of all these lesbian stories," (in what, while it contains a character which is a lesbian, is hardly what I would call a lesbian story -- whatever the fuck a lesbian story is, don't ask me).

Then this tool, the "fearsome pirate,' over at the Boarshead Tavern, mansplains to us about feminism, which he also mansplains is a lie, though he's not really clear what the lie part is.  As far as I can tell, the lie part is because wimmins don't tell him he's the bestests anymore.

When I say “feminism,” I’m referring to the spectrum of ideology running from websites like Jezebel to university Women’s Studies departments, whose fundamental tenet is that the difference between women and men is largely–or even entirely–artificial and socially constructed. If you affirm that the behavioral, social, and economic differences between men and women are largely due to causes much deeper than surface “social constructs” that can be reconstructed at will, I wouldn’t call you a feminist.
I run into this kind of feminism all the time. Those sports articles I linked, which complained that women’s sports aren’t as popular as men while ignoring or outright denying the elephant in the room (namely, that women’s sports are actually men’s sports being played by women at a much lower level of performance), are pretty good examples of it, or at least its influence. Other examples would be hand-wringing over the lack of prevalence of women in STEM fields, punishing boys for not behaving like girls in school, whining about “patriarchal social standards of beauty,” automatically fast-tracking young women for management to avoid EEOC lawsuits, wondering why older men like younger women but not vice-versa, etc.

Then over at SF Signal, after the Nebula Awards were announced, and the list was not, for once, 98% straight white male authors -- yeah, you guessed it -- some straight white males proceeded to have tantrums in the comments.  From Jim Hines' blogpost on the event:

Sure is a huge slant towards women and the non white male. If we don’t start counteracting all the relentless one sided articles soon. Then SF is going to look a lot like the Romance Genre. And the funny thing is there wasn’t even a fight.
Thats my Counterpoint Mirror to todays Half Truths(its the other half that will complete you)

What's exasperating about this isn't that Someone is Wrong on the Internet (although, yeah, that's annoying): what's exasperating is the blind male privilege that operates here.  You wonder how these guys -- I hesitate to call them men -- can think things like "a huge slant toward women and non-white males."  Or how they can write that schools punish boys for not behaving like girls, or that women are "automatically fast-tracked for management" for any reason, much less to avoid EEOC lawsuits.  Or how they can look at a couple of stories with a couple of gay characters and write something like "I'm tired of all these lesbian stories."

You think, "Don't they live in the actual world?  Can't they look around and see that 99% of fiction is actually -- really, in fact -- about heterosexual relationships?  That most prizes, publications, reviews and attention  do in fact going to white straight men? That it is mostly men who run the companies and the universities and the government?"

But no.  They do not see this.

It's like that experiment.  One woman talking on a panel, nine men talking. Each of them talks about the same amount. Polls are run.  Most of the men in the audience say, Jeez, that broad wouldn't shut up.

Because any time a woman speaks, any time we gain anything, that's too much for some men.

They see one prize list with some women on it and a few people of color.  They see some women doing well.  They see a tiny, tiny loss of their dominance.  That's too much for some men.

Or, as another commentor on SF signal said: "’s a very girly list for the most part. But looking back a few years, the Nebula’s been that way for quite some time.  Not much of interest here for my reading tastes. I read 346 books last year and my tastes are quite wide and roaming, but I do tend to stick to male authors."

Quite wide and long as, you know, they aren't girly.

Update: This comment, OTOH, cracks me up:

 Ken: I share the concern about the Nebula award being dominated by women and non-whites.
I want my sci-fi heroes to be named things like “Chip” and work in traditional naval-officer hierarchies. I am very concerned that if more women are encouraged to write, scenes of action and exploration will be replaced with delays for menstruation. Also, I find uteri to be unsettling and would not want to be pressured to read a book in which they become sentient and menace colonial outposts and possibly, if the girl writer is also non-white, eat spicy foods.
This is why Tom Clancy is my favorite science fiction writer. He should get the Nebula.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I join the 21st Century

So I finally got a twitter account.

Me: (to the kid): Look.  If you had Twitter, you could follow Anne Lamott!

The Kid: (Snorting derisively): Like I need more ways to waste time!

It's sad when your 14 year old is more mature than you are.

(Here is what the kid is doing instead of twittering her time away!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Applying For Jobs

As some of you may know, I am applying for jobs out there in the world.

One job I looked at today, a job I wouldn't mind having but which is hardly the best job in the world, is asking -- for the initial screening, for the first level of applications -- for

  • A letter of application
  • A CV
  • Official Transcripts
  • sample upper and lower syllabi (for the area of specality)
  • evidence of teaching experience
  • statement of teaching philsophy
  • student evaluations
  • a writing sample
That's for the initial screening -- for the who knows about many applications?  Maybe 80, maybe 120, maybe 150 initial application are going to send (at some expense) all nine of those documents to the Search Committee.  That's a ton of work, and a certain amount of money, and most of that work is wasted work.  How many of those applications are going to be seriously considered?  Five?  Ten?

I'm at the point where I don't even apply for positions where the hiring committee is this inept, frankly.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Working Class Literature

I'm going to be teaching a class on Working Class Literature in the fall, which means (those of you who teach at universities have guessed this) my book order is due at the end of next week.  So I've been spending the past month hunting through my memory and the internet, sifting out the texts I desperately want the class to read from the texts the class absolutely must read v. the texts the class can afford to buy.

Here's the list I have right now.  Bearing in  mind that they are working class students themselves, and I have to keep this list more or less to something they can afford to buy, do y'all have advice?  Any great mistakes I've made?  Anything you think I desperately need to add?

  • American Working Class Literature, Oxford University Press: an anthology.  Usu. I hate anthologies, but this one contains a lot of cool, useful works.  TOC here.
  • Bartleby the Scrivener, Melville.  It's available free on iBooks and really cheap on Kindle.
  • Tillie Olsen, Tell Me A Riddle
  • George Orwell, Road to Wigan Pier
  • Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek
  • Richard Russo, Nobody's Fool
  • Dorothy Allison, Trash
I'd kind of like to cut at least one of those books, since we're getting close to what I can ask students to spend.  Anyway.  Advice and suggestions are welcome!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Supporting Equal Rights is Just Like Supporting the KKK

Here's more on the River Valley Equality Center, Sisters Bistro and the gentleman who refused them a venue.

"Hodo said he doesn't support what the River Valley Equality Center stands for.
"I told them that I do not support their cause, that if they want to do that that's their business. I do not care, but I don't support their lifestyle and their cause," said Hodo,"

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Why, Yes, I Do Live In The Bible Belt

Over the past few days, here in the River Valley, we've had another one of those fine events that reminds us just how time-anchored this bit of the country really is.

Specifically, one of our QUILTBAG groups, the River Valley Equality Center, scheduled an benefit at a local restaurant, Sisters Gourmet Bistro: music, other entertainment.  Tickets were sold, commitments were made.  When the owner discovered that the E in Equality meant equality for those gays, he cancelled.  Confronted, he told the event organizer that he would have cancelled a if they had been the KKK too -- that he didn't want controversy connected to his establishment.

Yep.  Because fighting for equality through peaceful means and fighting against equality via violence and terrorism -- those are exactly the same things, so I see your point.

One especially stinging issue is that this particular restaurant, Sisters Gourmet Bistro, is one that we on the liberal side here in Arkansas had seen as an ally of sorts, a more liberal sort of place, as it were.  As my ex-student Dustin explains here in his post on the subject, many people were involved in working to help Sisters get their liquor license (no small thing in that rabidly Conservative and therefore dry county).  And as many people have remarked on Sisters' page over the past few days, the bistro has been pleased to take gay money over the years.

But letting it been seen by the community at large that Sisters doesn't spit on that sort of people?

Well, apparently that is just too much to ask.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Worldbuilding: Pirians & Cats (Canon, I guess)

I had to break the news to the kid that Pirians (my Utopian society the series I'm writing) do not have cats.

"What?" she demanded.  "How can it be a Utopian society if they don't have kitties?"

Me: "Well, they can't have cats.  They live on space ships, see, and--"

The Kid: "But kitties!"

Me: "In space ships, see, we use plants to purify the air, and lots of those plants are toxic to cats.  So--"

The Kid: "Couldn't they just keep the cats away from the plants?"

Me: "They could, I suppose.  Mostly the plants are in the Exchange.  [Digression while I explain what that is.] But also, Pirians live at zee or near zee, most of the time.  Can you imagine a litterbox at zero-gravity?"

The Kid imagines a litterbox at zero gravity.

The Kid: "But no cats!"

Me: (Sadly): "I know.  Pirian kids think of them like dragons.  Wonderful mythic creatures."

The Kid: (Brightening): You've got that dagan.  From "Velocity's Ghost"?  Who can turn itself into anything? The therapist?"

Me: "Um. Right...I mean, they're like therapists..."

The Kid: "Well, those could turn themselves into kitties!  For Pirians who needed cat therapy!"

Me: "...emergency cat therapy."

The Kid: "Right!"

Me:  "...Okay.  Yeah.  I suppose."


See, I send you over to the American Conservative, telling you that you can get thoughtful posts from a relatively sane guy on the Right if you go to that site...

...and then?

This: Let's Mock The Idea That Transgender People Are Reals. (With side notes In Comments about Cutting off Penis jokes HA HA HA HA!)

This: Let's Get Hysterical About The Boy Scouts & Them Gays

This: Muslims are Sluts, so Real Xtians Avoid Them! (Um, What?)

More Anti-Muslim Posting.

Here, A Conversation With A Haitian Cab Driver (O I KID YOU NOT!) Where we learn that all we need is White Christians to take over the Country and all will be well.

Here, he blames liberals for the exploitation of young girls by men in this culture.  Yes.  Because we're the ones who teach young women that they should submit to men, and that they don't own their bodies, and that validation should come from men.

And This Post, Charmingly Called The Mall Killers (though no one is killed, notice): Some extreme fucking racism about how violent those black people are and what ever shall we do?  There is (some) pushback among those who comment; but also some sickening racism as well.

I'm writing this post because, despite the fact that TAC is (in fact) one of the few conservative sites that posts reasonable and rational posts from time to time, and is (in fact) one of the few conservative sites on which (some of) those who comment are sensible and rational, I am hereby, as of today's horrible anti-trans post, withdrawing even my limited endorsement of the site.

Because, Christ.  What an asshole.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Crossed Genres: New Issue

Y'all may already know this, but Crossed Genres has (after their brief hiatus) begun publishing their monthly magazine again: Crossed Genres 2.0 They're taking submission, too, both for that magazine and for a new anthology, Fierce Families, that sounds extremely cool.

They actually started up the magazine last month, with a strong issue, Boundaries. In that issue, my personal favorite story was Megan Arkenberg's Désiré a story that takes a bit of work to get into, but which is well worth the effort.  It's about war and art, among other things; and about how art influences the world, which has always been a topic that intrigues me.

The current issue, Cloak and Dagger, is also very cool.  My very favorite story this time is Nghi Vo's  "Shadows Cast By Moonlight," about two street kids and what one of them does to escape poverty; but a close second is J.S. Bangs' "The Suffragette's Election," which goes like a rocket -- a dystopian tale about democracy gone wrong.

Go read -- you won't be sorry.  And submit!  They're paying pro-rates now. Here's the page for upcoming issues.