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Posts Tagged ‘Rants’

How Not to Teach English

October 26, 2009 2 comments

My English teacher feels that his Honors English students are not capable of keeping up with their reading assignments unless he provides them with some extra encouragement. This encouragement come in the form of quizzes, two a week, that ask such questions as, “Who is ___?” “What does Craven say about logical fallacies?” Answers are to be short, concise, and factual rather then interpretive. This would be fine, since there is not even an inch of wiggle room for interpretation anyway in such questions, but I can’t remember that small paragraph about logical fallacies twenty pages back. I thought I was taking an English, not a Chemistry class and therefore I didn’t bother to commit the mundane details, such as the name of the main character’s brother who is mentioned once, to memory.

Today, I received an email from my English teacher. It reads;

The following new rules for quizzes will go into effect beginning Tuesday Oct 27:

1.  All quizzes must be subitted on "cut-sheet" 8 1/2 x 11" white lined standard American notebook paper.  You can buy a packet of this paper in any Walgreens, Longs, 7-Eleven, or the campus bookstore.  If you insist on using tear-sheet spiral notebook paper, it is up to you, not me, to tear off the tatters before submitting the quiz.  I will provide one package of paper for those who forget to bring their own....at least until the package runs out.

2.  All quizzes must include your name and the quiz number in the heading.   The quiz number is always clearly visible on screen.   Quizzes not properly identified in this way will earn a zero.

3.  All quiz questions must be numbered and presented in their correct numberical order (no more illegible and unlabeled jumbles of disorderly answers please).

4.  Copy down (or include) the quiz question with your answer every single time, or your answer will not count.

Example:

Who is the King of Pop?
Michael Jackson

or

The King of Pop is Michael Jackson

MY GOALS:
1)  Improve consistency and efficiency in grading quizzes
2)  Avoid time wasted vacuuming up little scraps of paper confetti in my office, car, clothing, and condo
3)  Stop being mistaken for an elementary school teacher when I grade quizzes in public

I have an idea! If you don’t want to be mistaken for an elementary school teacher, then stop making me do boring, pointless quizzes like a third grader. If I wanted to do busywork, I’d drop out of college and go back to high school. As it is, you’re insulting your students and making yourself look bad.

What’s Wrong with Peter Sprigg

October 6, 2009 1 comment

I admit it. I watch Fox News.

You should thank me. I’m taking a bullet for you, here. I am absorbing the rays of stupidity that Fox News exudes so you don’t have to.

FAUX news recently aired a story about the possible pros and cons of spanking children. Arguing the pro position, they featured Peter Sprigg.

I had never heard of Peter Sprigg before today, and I’ll assume that you’ve never heard of Peter Sprigg either. So, you’re wondering; who is Peter Sprigg? What does Peter Sprigg represent? Where did Peter Sprigg get his degree in developmental psychology?

Turns out Peter Sprigg doesn’t have a degree in developmental psychology, or any type of psychology for that matter. This sentence could alternately be read as; Peter Sprigg has no right to go on television and spout the nonsense he spouts on the subjects of disciplining children, marriage, and homosexuality. So, what is Peter Sprigg qualified to talk about? Well… He’s a baptist minister with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in political science and economics. Oops!

My question to Fox News is; if you like to have people on your show to talk about topics which they have no expertise in, can I come on your show too? I have a degree in Yak Taming, and I want to present some new theories I’ve developed regarding environmental science. I think I’ve reached a breakthrough; global warming isn’t caused by the acceleration of the carbon cycle! It’s actually caused by an army of fanciful, flatulent elves who dance about farting joyfully and releasing greenhouse gasses.

Ok. I’m not such a hardass that I won’t take anyone seriously unless they have a piece of paper affirming they know what they’re talking about. Academia has its charms, but there are other, just as valid ways of learning. I for one have never formally studied biology, but it’s a topic of great interest to me and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in certain fields of it. But the problem isn’t that Peter Sprigg isn’t qualified to tell people how to raise their children because he has no formal training or special expertise; it’s that he has no formal training or special expertise, AND he’s an idiot.

Consider this gem of Peter Sprigg intellect;

HOST: Peter, I know you personally approve of spanking. But does this new study suggest that one is too young?

PETER; Well, I think that’s an important point. The problem is that this study is a relatively narrow finding about one year olds… The experts we consulted with suggested that spanking can be an effective form of punishment between two and eight years old. This study actually confirmed that spanking for children from two to eight years old is positive, in a way, because the two year olds didn’t display some of the negative characteristics of the one-year old children.

Children whose parents start hitting them when they’re a little older are less likely to be violent fucktards themselves, therefore you should definitely hit your kids? Also, what experts? Why is Peter Sprigg – the guy who is NOT AN EXPERT – on TV instead of his experts? Hey, Peter. You don’t have any expertise in child psychology, and you’re on TV as part of a ‘special panel’, so what kind of qualifications – or lack thereof – might your experts have? I’m guessing Peter Sprigg’s experts are much like his God; knowledgeable, useful for citing when you don’t want people to know that they have no real reasons to listen to you, and imaginary.

It goes on.

PETER: … One may be a little young because of their cognitive development.

Yeah. As any expert will tell you, cognitive development is pretty much over at two years of age. So spank away!

…And it goes on.

HOST: Can spanking sometimes be used as a deterrent?

PETER: I think everyone understands that the police are allowed to use force in a way that ordinary people are not allowed to use force. They can use guns in ways that ordinary citizens can’t.

…No, asshole. You’re dead wrong. Dead wrong. Let me ask you something.  Does a police officer catch a guy and then, after the person has surrendered, beat the crap out of him with his baton to deter him from a repeat crime? No! Of course not. Police officers who do use extraneous force are supposed to be punished, under the law. If there’s an analogue in the real world to what you’re suggesting we do with children, it’s called POLICE BRUTALITY.

Now, we know that there are plenty of stupid people waiting at all turns with legions of stupid comments that they feel the world would like to hear. What is so problematic about Peter’s suggestion that police use force as a punishment and deterrent is that it displays the ignorance and sadism that has seeped into our American culture. A grown man can go on national TV and show, in the course of four minutes, that he is completely ignorant of how law enforcement is supposed to work, and furthermore that he embraces this fantasy in which police officers dole out beatings as punishment for bad behavior, and concludes the whole shebang by suggesting that parents set up a similar hierarchy in their home, and no one bats an eye.

Well, except for me and a few others. But for the vast majority of people, this moment will slide by unnoticed. And why shouldn’t it? In America it’s not just normal for a man who doesn’t understand the law and can’t make the distinction between justice and revenge to be brought onto a new program watched by millions to give advice in a field he has no special knowledge of, it’s expected.

How has it come to pass that Americans are more attuned to dominance and retribution then fairness and indeed, a value we proclaim so loudly, equality? Why did we create, and why do we perpetuate, a culture in which justice has been replaced by a sort of sensational sadism, which seems to be egged on by the American people?

Something occurred to me recently. If you know me well, you know that I sparsely have good things to say about America. But I don’t hate ‘the system’, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or any of that, and in general I have great respect for the founders and the principles they decided to establish America on.  And I realize that we have a lot of good things; we’re wealthy, generally speaking we live comfortable lives, and we can do a lot of things that people in other countries can’t. So why can’t I bring myself to identify as a patriot? Why aren’t I proud to call myself an American?

It’s the people. It’s us, and what we’ve chosen to do with our freedom. It’s the fact that McDonalds is selling their shit food like crazy, and that people who get fat eating it sue, but it doesn’t matter because McDonalds already owns us and Americans will keep right on buying burgers. Because, hey, when we’re too fat to walk, the corporations will save us! With their pharmaceuticals and their potions and their endless appeals to the most immature parts of our psyches. It’s how we accept the truth of advertising and buy ‘miracle’ pills to cure our indigestion, our chronic headaches, our disability to become sexually aroused, and never once do we stop and say, ‘hey, why isn’t my body working right in the first place?’ It’s our refusal to take personal responsibility for our problems and our deference of them to the corporations that thrive on promising to eliminate them – miraculously, with no side effects. Americans don’t want to sacrifice anything; we are so afraid of sacrifice that we will pretend that there is always, always, always a way out of giving something up. We like to have our cake and eat it too, literally, and often twice. It’s how we childishly see freedom as the freedom to always have our own way, even if that means eliminating another person’s rights. No married gays in my state. People can’t do drugs, because I don’t agree with how they live. Let’s outlaw burning the flag, because that offends me!

So no, I don’t hate America. I’m not against the supposedly American principles; freedom, opportunity, equality, and justice for all. I am for those things, and that’s why I can’t stand people like you, Peter Sprigg and Megan Kelly and Bill O’Reilly of Fox news. And do you want to know why it’s you and your America – the one you and people like you have hijacked and reformed into a nursery school playground – I can’t stand? It’s because you’re not for those things. You are only for those principles insofar as they are of immediate benefit to you. So, if you guys, you and your flag-worshiping posse, you and your bible-thumping supporters really love America as much as you say you do… Do America a favor and shut the hell up.

Categories: Politics, Rants Tags: ,