May 2nd, 2013

lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
Well, almost. I have one stack of exams yet to grade, but I'm done with classes themselves, on both sides of the desk!

I had some amazing work from my students this term; I'm really proud and very impressed by a number of them! Who said you can't teach theory to freshmen? Then again, I had more people just blow stuff off than ever before! Whole research papers without a single citation, students not bothering to turn in research papers (20% of final grade! WTF?) or just taking half the semester 'off' and showing up for the exam. Weird. Still, on balance, a very satisfying semester teaching-wise.

I managed to pull off As in both my own courses, somewhat to my surprise in one case. You may recall the 'difficult' prof I mentioned earlier? The arrogant one, who also threatened to take a letter grade off because of my 'absences' a.k.a. going to and presenting at professional conferences. Um, hello? Isn't that kind of central to the business of academia, and THIS is why you want to dock my grade? Like I turned in any bit of work that wasn't an A.... Oi.

The other course was Comm Theory. On the one hand, it was pretty easy; I've studied half this stuff before in the context of the original theories, like Foucault, Sartre, Baudrillard, etc. On the other, it was kind of hard for me to take some of it seriously, more or less for the same reason. "Oooh, you figured out that people choose what to reveal and what not to reveal for reasons of power? That's nice; Foucault did that 20 years before you did, and did it better." On one of my essays RE this theory ("Privacy Management Theory") I attached a few pages of Foucault's chapter on confession and the perpetual spirals of power and pleasure. Arrogant, perhaps. The program seems to keep falling over itself at having an 'academic' in the program (the vast majority are business folks taking this as a first graduate experience for the sake of advancement in their jobs), so the professors I've worked with tend to appreciate that I take a different, and decidedly more 'academic' perspective even where I call bullshit on some of what they are teaching. *shrug* Works for me, I suppose.

I'm getting PhD hankerings again. Oi, again. LOL. First thing is going to have to be Latin - I really need to get my shoddy Latin up to snuff to even be considered most anywhere I want to go (options for which are severely limited by my location). Anything I do will involve a commute of some kind - the question is how far, and how often. So we shall see. No hurry, I can keep chipping away at this COMM MA for now, while I explore the possibilities.

Meanwhile - summer break! w00t! What the heck am I going to do with myself all summer! (OK, try to brush up Latin, but OTHER than that.....LOL)
lunadelcorvo: (Foucault Power)
In commenting on the upcoming Day of Reason announcements (which have popped up in a number of places, but the one in question was Charlotte, North Carolina), Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, a right-wing women's policy group, said on FoxNews:

"You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust…Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation."

I kid you not. CWA boasts approximately 500K members. It was founded by Beverly LaHaye, long-time right-wing activist and wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series, a violent fiction series about the struggles of Christians against the anti-Christ's world government. They consider themselves the opposition to National Organization For Women, and are explicitly not only Christian dominionists, but overtly anti-feminism.

Given my familiarity with the group (read their profile here) this comment from their CEO does not surprise me. It seems to be just the most recent in a string of outright inversions of reality of "black-is-white" magnitude that have become part of the discourse lately. It happened gradually, but it is deeply significant, and goes a long way to explain how the rabidly faithful constituents of the Religious Right/GOP consistently, repeatedly, proudly vote against their own interests.

The Right has been stunningly, bafflingly successful at convincing incredible numbers of people to not merely believe, but staunchly defend and act upon things which are demonstrably, factually false. And I'm not talking the kind of demonstrably false that requires an advanced science degree, I'm talking things that are quite easy to verify. The following it a list of core principles in the right-wing, and each of them is simply false:
  • Abortion causes breast cancer
  • Birth control is abortion
  • Abstinence only education prevents pregnancy and diseases
  • Condoms don't prevent STDs
  • Atheism is the same as moral relativism
  • Climate change isn't real
  • Obama has taken more vacation days and spent more money than any other president
  • Homosexuality is a choice, and 'fixable'
  • Hitler was an atheist, and the Nazis were atheists (or gay)
  • Rape does not cause pregnancy
  • The bible/Jesus is against the minimum wage
  • America was founded as a Christian nation
  • Public schools 'teach' homosexuality
  • Obama was not born in America
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The problem here is that this is not the radical fringe, this is a HUGE chunk of the population. (Remember, less than half of the US population thinks evolution is true.) They believe a huge array of things that are just flat-out not true, and they believe them passionately, militantly. Even aside from any opinion you may have about the dangers of religious thinking (itself based on belief in factually indefensible claims), these people have gone far beyond even religious credulity to inhabiting an entirely unreal world.

The implications of this are terrifying. A population that will believe anything...well they will believe anything. They can be made to do anything, accept anything, regard anything or anyone as evil. And the people who construct the messages then have virtually unlimited power.



Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities