Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Sign Of The Times?


We've just had Exam Two here in US History to 1877. And I'm seeing something that I have not seen hitherto.

My "traditional" essay prompt for this exam --which covers the time period from 1763 to 1814-- calls for students to "[d]escribe the differences between the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists" and to "compare those differences to those that exist between today's Republicans and Democrats." At first blush this should not be a terribly challenging topic, but then again many of my students a) don't study, b) don't pay attention in class and c) don't bother keeping up with the news. Actually, most of them do a passable job with the first part of the question, but not the second --at least until this time around.

Now I am no fool. I realize that like most young Americans, my students overwhelmingly supported the election of B. Obama to the Presidency. And in past semesters, their essays have reflected the mindset of Democratic-leaning supporters, e.g., "today's Republicans are the party of the wealthy elite, just as the Federalists were," and "Jeffersonian Republicans were the party of the 'little guy' like today's Democrats."

Not. This. Time.

I was genuinely shocked to see students talking about "today's Democrats are all about the expanding of power like in health-care reform, while today's Republicans are like yesterday's Republicans in wanting limited government." I've always had one or two Tea Party types among my population, so I have seen this line used before. But the sheer number of essays written by my students --who have to get through an Eric Foner textbook as their main reader!-- that reflect *gasp* skeptical cynicism is enough to make me blink.

It gets better. I'm also seeing essays along the lines of "today's Republicans are strict constructionists, while today's Democrats are firm believers in implied powers" --and I never used to get more than one or two like that a semester! My students are suddenly taking a deeper interest in the Constitution. Why is this??? [NB we do read the entire thing line-by-line in class.]

Now some of you may be a bit "oh they're just mirroring you, Mojo, you big honking fascist!" [I am not a fascist.] Well, I haven't been particularly strident this semester, and I do make an effort to play up the logic and benefits of a loose constructionist position in the name of balance --in short, I haven't changed what I do. It's the students who are changing what they're saying.


And given the demographics that I reach, that's a huge warning sign to those in power at the moment. If you're losing MY students, in the long run you are toast.


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why You Should Be Careful If Voting Straight-Party Tickets


UPDATE: BEFORE YOU VOTE, PUT THIS APP ON YOUR PHONE! The Voter Fraud Mobile app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad: you may not have to use it, but you'll be glad if you do.


In North Carolina as well as in Nevada, voters trying to vote straight-party tickets on machines have reported problems with the ballots being "defaulted" to some previously-set parameter --in other words, the ballots were pre-set to vote for "the other guy."

I have already voted and I noticed no such irregularity on my ballot. But be aware that This Sort Of Thing can (and does) happen. Be diligent when casting your vote: make sure your final ballot is the one you selected. Remember that in many states (including mine), going down-ticket to vote in races where your party runs no candidate will invalidate your straight-party vote at the top of the ballot.

Of course, the simplest and best (if not shortest) solution is not to vote the straight-party option at the top of your ballot, but to vote separately in each individual race.


But whatever else you do, do go vote. Display Your Civitas!


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Iraq did have chemical WMD, WikiLeaks documents reveal - NYPOST.com


Iraq did have chemical WMD, WikiLeaks documents reveal - NYPOST.com: not the first time this sort of thing has been reported, but that's not why we should care. First, it should finally put a rest to "Bush lied, people died." (But I doubt it...) Second, it has long been speculated that Iraq did have much more in the way of WMD but managed to secrete them elsewhere in the run-up to the invasion. This is not proof of that, but it it does cast doubt on the counter-claim that there were no WMD in the first place.


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Monday, October 18, 2010

THIS MUST BE DEEP-FRIED!!!


This would never get a second look at the State Fair of Texas unless it were first deep-fried:

The Faculty Lounge: Another Sign That the American Empire Is In Its "Decadent Decline" Phase:


Kkburger


I'm having a calorie coma-by-proxie....


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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Say What?: Post-Rapture Pet Care


Hire an Atheist to Watch Your Pet After the Rapture:

(not original to, but brought to my attention by The Volokh Conspiracy)


You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

We are currently active in 24 states. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet’s natural life....

For $110.00 we will guarantee that should the Rapture occur within ten (10) years of receipt of payment, one pet per residence will be saved [I take it that’s not in the theological sense of “saved” –EV]....


Okay, to me this has SCAM written all over it, beyond any tongue-in-cheek interpretations. Presumably, this is a safe gamble for anyone involved on the Earth-Bound end. If no Thessalonian-style Rapture occurs, the money stays there --unless it's like an insurance policy where you can cash it in upon maturity, in which case it's at best a poor investment on your money and EEBP still gets to keep the interest, so again, a scam.

On the other hand, if the saved are all called up at once, who will be around that has standing to file suit for breach-of-contract should said services not be provided, either by malice or by force majeure ("And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth...")


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Monday, October 4, 2010

Education Professors vs. Education (from (Accuracy in Academia)


Education Professors vs. Education: (read and follow links)


A recent study by Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett should strike fear into the parents of students across America.

This new study, entitled “Cracks in the Ivory Tower?: The Views of Education Professors Circa 2010,” takes an in-depth look at how today’s education professors view their role in society and in preparing the future teachers of our nation’s children. The results are distressing. Observe this nugget from the study’s key findings:

Asked to choose between two competing philosophies of the role of teacher educator, 68 percent believe preparing students “to be change agents who will reshape education by bringing new ideas and approaches to the public schools” is most important; just 26 percent advocate preparing students “to work effectively within the realities of today’s public schools.”


We've been trying "new" approaches since Dewey infamously led pedagogues astray in the early 20th century. We haven't ever recovered.


...

Meanwhile, the study points out that “Just 37 percent say it is ‘absolutely essential’ to focus on developing ‘teachers who maintain discipline and order in the classroom.’” This is despite the fact that discipline in the classroom and student management is, as Jay Mathews at the Washington Post calls it, “the hottest topic among young teachers.”


Tell it on the mountain!!!

A MIRACLE!!!


Over the weekend we thought that Mrs. Professor Mojo had suffered a miscarriage. The last 48 hours have been hell.

But when we went into today for what was supposed to be a post-mortem ultrasound (to see if D and C was necessary), we were (to quote Chesterton) surprised by joy: the baby was still inside and waving at us!!!

Evidently, the Mrs. had some sort of blood clot that passed, but otherwise left the baby intact.

We intend to spend the rest of today laughing and rejoicing and generally being much-relieved and muchly-thankful.


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