Saturday, October 31, 2009

a heartening development

I had LOTS of trick or treaters this year. LOTS. More than previous years. I gave out almost all the candy I bought.

This makes me happy. I see trick or treating as one of the simple pleasures of childhood. (I realize some may disagree with me for religious reasons, and that's fine for you. I grew up in a fairly observant family and there never seemed to be "evil" or satanic overtones to Halloween to me - and of course the next day is All Saint's Day. We kind of saw it in two ways: first, as a fun day to go out and do what you don't normally do (go out at night, eat more candy than normally permitted) and second, as a day to laugh at what scares you).

I'm glad it's not been swept away completely by the increased "convenience" or imagined greater "safety" of taking the kids to the mall instead, or doing a parking lot "trunk or treat." Oh, maybe some of the kids I saw did that too, but they also got out to do the old-school way of trick or treating, like I did as a kid.

I always try to buy the "good" candy; on a tip from a parent I know, this year I went for Skittles and 3 Musketeers bars and little Twix bars, those all seemed to be big hits. Most of the kids thanked me and a few really got excited when they saw what they were getting.

I like seeing all the trick or treaters. The tiny little kids in their tiny little costumes (cutest one this year - a babe in arms dressed as a bumblebee), the slightly older kids trying to pick the coolest or goriest costume (there were quite a few grim reapers this year, and there was one kid dressed as a Zombie Michael Jackson. Maybe a bit inappropriate, I don't know, but it was a pretty good costume (it was homemade)).

It makes me happy that this tradition survives. I hope it continues to, despite all the "bad news" about sex offenders and danger lurking in the candy and the recession and all that other crap - when you're a kid, you don't remember what's going on in the news (I don't remember much of Carter other than that he had a big toothy grin and used to be a peanut farmer, and I don't really remember the Carter Recession or the oil crisis (other than waiting in long lines to buy gas with my dad and him cussing a bit about it) but you do remember stuff like trick or treating.

And I think parents do, too. I know I get a lot of pleasure, even as a non-parent, from handing out the candy - it must be a lot of fun to take your kid out and see them get excited and have them all dressed up.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Something came up that reminded me of my cousin who committed suicide. It's been five years now but it still hurts when I'm reminded of it.

I realize people in that frame of mind aren't really thinking, but really, it is the ultimate selfish act.

I'm just kind of melancholy right now. It's rained all week long, I'm trying to grade some absolutely terrible papers (I think I'm going to have to go back and re-teach stuff they should have already known) and all I have to look forward to tomorrow is coming in and doing the research work I didn't have time to do today.

I will admit to going over to "Superbuzzy" (a site that sells Japanese print fabric and cute little toys from a company called Re-Ment) and buying myself a couple of treats. (I got paid today. And, oh crap, that reminds me: don't go grocery shopping today. Or tomorrow, for that matter.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Headline of the day

"Sweden focuses on cutting food emissions."

I guess I'm still kind of 12; my first thought was, "So, they're going to ban beans then?"

(Apparently it has to do with "greening farming." So it will soon come here and we will be nannied at for wanting to drink orange juice when we do not live in Florida or California, or for wanting chocolate, or coffee.)


I do agree with both HH and the Swillers. I think our future is a mix of 1984 (only Big Brother is also looking for wrong-eating and wrong-energy-use as well as wrong-thinking) and BNW, with some "Some pigs are more equal than others" thrown in for good measure.

(I have a strong suspicion that the "some pigs are more equal than others" concept is what keeps certain individuals in favor of communist/socialist ideas: because they believe they will not be the ones forced to stand in line for six hours to buy a loaf or bread, or they will not be the ones forced to live in a depressing, monolithic apartment block. And they don't seem to particularly care that a lot of people WOULD, if we became socialist and it turned into a late-Soviet style of socialism). And I think it's the same idea that blinds certain celebrities to the irony of them jetting all over the world while telling their fans that it is "correct" to dry clothes on a clothesline, and eat vegetarian, and turn the thermostat down in the winter.

And then there's "We" by Zamyatin. I read that one, too, all I remember of it was that sex was outlawed (you had to request, and fill out forms, for permission to have it) and everyone was watched through giant windows. And imagination was outlawed. (Interesting that the author of that novel was, IIRC, present at the 1917 Soviet revolution)

There is no shortage of dystopian views of our future. And all of the Utopian communities ever established wound up failing. So I admit a hearty suspicion of people who would make a Utopia on earth, either by government fiat (the most common form these days) or everyone subjecting themselves to some sort of allegedly-appointed-by-God leader (the Utopian communities of the 1800s.)

Presented without comment:

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A thought...

When I was a teenager, I read both "1984" and "Brave New World." My friends always thought "1984" was going to be the scenario that happened in the future. I thought it would be "Brave New World."

Sadly, I think I was right. And it seems to be coming more every day. How long before they put soma in the drinking water?

When do the responsible people get a chance?

First off, Bings:

I think the student in question is either the Hairdresser of the Future or the Grocery Shelf Restocker of the future.

Remember, I don't exactly teach at Harvard, so don't fret too much over one person who seems to not have it all goin' on upstairs. (And in some cases, I think the lack-of-brains is really a lack-of-attention or lack-of-caring.)

Second, the news story that irritated me for the day:

They're saying now that prisoners will be eligible for the H1N1 shot before the "non high risk" population.

Now, intellectually, I understand this: first, prisons are crowded places where people can't get away from one another. And second, many prisoners are probably in poorer health (thanks to drug use and other forms of bodily abuse) than the average taxpayer.

but emotionally, it pisses me off. It feels like yet another instance of "People who followed the rules and did the responsible thing, get to the back of the line. We'll help you when we're done helping the "dee-dee-dee" Special Snowflakes of the world who can't be arsed to take care of themselves - that is, if we are still equipped to give any help."

I teach on a college campus. It's crowded. It has people who don't always take the best care of themselves (I am sure going out and drinking cheap beer several nights a week is not salutary for one's health). It has a mix of people, some with chronic illnesses. And yet, there is no plan to offer vaccines - because there is NOT ENOUGH vaccine.

(I heard this morning that a 40 year old woman in Texas died from H1N1. They're saying she had no underlying conditions. What is this about "only children are seriously affected" again?)

I don't know. I'm just so fed up with what seems to be a lot of contradictory information, a lot of screw-ups on the parts of TPTB, as concerns this. Now they're telling us, "Don't panic," while they continue to report the death toll (yes, this is NOT as bad as seasonal flu deaths. So, dear MSM, why are you acting like each death from this is a major tragedy, and you always ignore the seasonal flu.)

I just have a feeling that either this whole mess is a preview of what the "public option" ("Whoops, we didn't make enough necessary vaccine!") will be, or it will lead to some kind of blanket declarations that limit people's freedom. ("We're from the government, and we're closing down movie theaters, because it's For Your Own Good.")

They're vaccinating schoolkids here (there is an opt-out option, though from all I've read, this vaccine looks pretty safe). I hope soon those of us who are not regarded as "high risk" will get a chance. (I'm especially scared as I live alone - if I get sick I will have no one to take care of me, or to realize that I have a super high fever and need to go to the ER. I wonder if they even send out ambulances for someone who's so sick and weak from flu that they can't drive themselves to the hospital?)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good thing I'm not a drinking woman (II)

I just received this e-mail.

The subject line was "Hey."

Getting an e-mail from a student titled "Hey" is NEVER a good thing.

The e-mail itself reads (and this is VERBATIM, nothing cleaned up or changed):

"i just thought i would let u know that i do study for ur test. i just realy have hard time with test just dont want u to think im not trying in ur class i really am..."

I am debating whether beating my forehead to a bloody pulp on the edge of my desk would help or not. If I were a drinking woman....well, I'd be standing outside the lone town liquor store waiting for them to open up for the day.

I SHOULD send it back, with a comment that using text-speak on a professor who CLEARLY likes language and uses it well is an insult, and include the old saying about "'Hey' is for horses" but I don't think that would solve anything.

Seriously - WHY IN THE HELL would you send what any adult would regard as an illiterate e-mail claiming that you are actually studying and actually working but do not test well?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This might just be a solution...

bob barker
see more Lol Celebs

I would also recommend Kanye West. And both Jon and Kate. And perhaps Lady Gaga as well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear person who chronically skips my class...

You might wish to take note of the fact that you scored a 44% on the first exam, and a 30% on the current exam. Neither of these scores, I am convinced, are my fault, considering that the class means have been around about 70% and I have several students scoring above 90%.

You might also wish to know that if you come into my office in the last week of class and want to know if there is anything you can "do" to salvage your grade, I will very likely tell you, "Build a time machine. Go back to the start of this semester. Come to class, do the work, and study for the exams."

But I won't tell you that, because the irony would be lost on you; you would simply think I'm another mean professor making impossible demands of the students.

Just because

This afternoon feels like it will be a good time to go home, make a pot of tea, put my feet up, and put one of my Animaniacs dvds in the player.

it's been an uuuuuugggggggllllllyyyyyy week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You know...

When a prof repeats something THREE TIMES to a class, has it on an overhead slide, and says THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW THIS, **AND** has written on the exam review sheet KNOW THIS TOPIC, you would think a student would study and learn that specific topic for an exam, no?

With this class I'm grading for right now, not so much.



I'm not so sure, personally, I'd be in favor of a "ban" on reality shows.

Because the problem with bans is, once you've banned the stuff you don't like, someone else demands the option to ban stuff they don't like. (And I can see our administration banning a particular network, were they given the chance).

I'd rather see the American public, as a mass, decide, "You know, it's really a waste of our time to watch melodramatic family melt-downs and people who are the modern equivalent of circus freaks" and turn off the shows en masse.

(Of course, I know, the old line from Mencken or Perelman or whomever: No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public).

There are a couple shows that are arguably "reality" that I actually watch: Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs.

The difference is, they have people (hosts) who know something that I feel is worth my knowing, and I especially like Mike Rowe's attitude: "I'm going to showcase these people who normally do the behind-the-scenes, thankless jobs, because they're really important to keeping our society running."

I also occasionally watch some of the "medical emergency" type shows, but even those sometimes border a bit too much on melodrama for me.

What I don't care for - and don't particularly "get" - are the 'famous for being famous' shows. The Kardashians? Who are they, why do they have a show? The Hulk Hogan and his family one? I tried watching a few minutes of the Kardashians but found that it bored me.

(OK, I admit it: I used to watch the Ozzy Osbourne one, or at least half-watch it while doing other things. Because it amazed me that someone could have done as much drugs as he's rumored to have done, and still be vertical and this side of the turf.)

And, while I don't watch them, I do think that shows like "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" are fun, and possibly give people the sense that "if I work at my interest, maybe I can get good enough at it to actually perform" or whatever.

But I grow tired of the people - and there seem to be a lot of them in this world - who think they deserve a show on television. That they are special and interesting and DIFFERENT from thousands of other people.

Look, if they tried to make a reality show about my life, I realize it would be monumentally boring to everyone except maybe the five or six people who extra-specially love me. But that's the way the vast majority of people's lives are!

What also gets me is the whole manufactured-drama thing. Most people's lives are just not that full of crises. (Or at least mine is not). Most people (I hope) don't go through the day screaming and cussing at the other people around them.

Actually, that's one of my concerns about some of these "reality" shows - people will see them and either assume "that's how people normally live" or decide that "the people on tv act that way, so it's fine for me to stop exercising control over how I act and how I treat people." And we see a further coarsening of culture, more and more parents cussing their kids out in the wal-mart, more and more couples having screaming fits in the airport or somewhere else they have an unwilling audience.

And maybe everyone becomes a little narcissist; everyone begins to assume they are "on," are playing to an audience at all times, that they want people to look at them. And people become, by stages, more and more of Speshul Snowflakes because they have been taught to believe that they "deserve" attention and an audience.

I think this is the "new lottery" - people used to believe that if they won the lottery, their lives would be AWESOME! I think now some people are thinking, "If I had a tv show, my life would be AWESOME!" and people are willing to do criminally stupid things to try to get it.

I hope we, as a culture, have more sense and more backbone than that, that there will come a point where we will say, "You know, this is really stupid" and stop granting the attention whores their fifteen minutes of fame.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

THAT'S a new one...

So my newest colleague comes in with a question.

"What do I do about this" - a student of hers handed back in his (all multiple choice) exam for re-grading, claiming she had mis-graded it.

He had taken the exam in pencil. Interestingly enough, all of the "mis-graded" questions had one answer (the wrong one) erased, and the "right" one written in darker pencil. (And "apparently" all of the questions he got wrong had been misgraded and were really right, and none of the others...)

(An aside: this is why, on multi-choice questions, I ALWAYS circle the right answer if they get the answer wrong.)

Apparently the guy was trying to cheat her, and figured because she was new and was trying to be a "friend" to the students, she'd fall for it. She was pretty disgusted. I told her to tell him she couldn't do a regrade because it was in pencil...and if necessary, to remark casually that it is "possible" that answers could be changed on an exam written in pencil - not to accuse him of it, but to hint that she's on to him.

(I probably should have told her to also notify the chair for back-up in case the guy tries to go over her head...our chair is very good at backing us up on cases like this but I think it helps for her to know).

But, crikey. That takes a pair right there, to change ALL the wrong answers on your test to the right ones and then claim the prof misgraded your test.


I just checked the rosters. Two of my ZOMG I NEED A MAKE UP TEST FOR THAT TEST I MISSED people have dropped.

Nice of them to tell me.

I realize that it's probably the furthest thing from their minds - to notify the prof they DEMANDED to write a make up test for them - but I still feel kind of taken advantage of.

But that's the theme of my life these days. It's Take Advantage of Ricki Month, apparently, and not Take Advantage in any way that might be remotely fun for me. Grr.

Arrrgh, sickies

I think they probably need to shut down campus. I have SO many students out sick. I got "official" word this morning that one of them has H1N1.

The biggest issue is that this throws a giant wrench into exam-giving. I will have to write make-up tests for everyone who's out sick.

(And I still HAVE a couple people who begged, pleaded, brought doctor's/lawyer's notes so they could make up exam 2 who still have not. I get REALLY annoyed when I go to the trouble to write a make-up exam and people can't be arsed to take it).

The thing that gets me, is I don't know for sure who's for real and who's shamming (well, unless they bring notes...and we've been told some doctors are not giving notes because of the "paperwork overload").

This is an effing nightmare. As is the distribution of the vaccine. I've been as much as told I won't be able to have it, seeing as I'm not in any of the valuable highly susceptible populations. Even though I have asthma and am around breeding grounds of virus and bacteria (aka students) daily.

So if I get sick, I get sick, and I have to try to take care of myself, because I live alone and I can't think of anyone I'd be willing to put at the risk of catching the flu from me to ask to come and take care of me. (I could DIE. I could DIE ALONE IN MY HOUSE and no one would know until I started stinking. That scares me.)

(And I hate to say it, but: expect more of the same if we happen to wind up with single-payer, government-run health care some day. More delays. More cock-ups. More people being deemed not-sufficiently-significant-to-be-treated.)

Some days I'm teaching to classes that are half full. Now, in some cases - like on Fridays - I suspect the "half full" is 'cos some of the guys are out in the deer woods. But other days...well, either lots of people are taking advantage of sleeping in, or I have lots of people out sick. This is going to be a lost semester for a lot of folks, whether they have gotten sick or whether they are taking advantage of the newly liberalized attendance policies.

I expect to have a lot of people crying poor in my office the last week of classes, because they did not realize that skipping class could lead to failing. And I will have ZERO sympathy. All of my sympathy is being used up on the genuinely sick people, and it's being burned up by the people who WERE sick but who are now not lifting a finger to try to get caught up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So it was a hoax

It was all a damnable, attention-whoring, let's-get-us-a-reality-show hoax.

I'm pretty furious. I hope that:

a. The parents are made to pay EVERY PENNY (and then some) of what the "rescue" operation cost.

b. No one in that town suffered a REAL emergency during the time of the fake emergency. If someone died or was disabled as a result, I think they have ever right to sue the crazy-balloon-family into the Stone Age.

c. That this signals the beginning of the end of the attention-whoring, "I'm famous for being famous," "Trouble is a form of attention!" mindset that waaaaaay too many of us have. I want people to become well-known because they did something that BENEFITED society. Like the guy who invented polio vaccine. Or someone who developed an afterschool program that kept kids out of trouble. Or someone who saved a bunch of his unit from an attack in Iraq. Or someone who took a risk with their life savings and created good jobs for people. NOT SOME EFFING LUNATICS WITH A MYLAR JIFFY-POP WEATHER BALLOON WHO HAVE TO BE ON THE EFFING TV!

And yeah, yeah, I'm giving the idiots attention by pointing to them as an example of people who should NEVER GET ATTENTION EVER AGAIN! But I'm done now.

Seriously, there are thousands of people out there who work their butts off and never see any benefits and sometimes rarely even a "thanks" for it. They're the ones who deserve attention - the folks in the military. The doctors who work long hours to help people. The caretakers at nursing homes. People who do hard and often dirty jobs because they are jobs that have to be done. And so few people give a crap about it, preferring to think about the doings of some celebutante or some loser who thinks their life was made to go on reality tv.

(Actually, maybe that's the secret: the people who are doing the tough, dangerous, and dirty jobs KNOW they're not losers, so they don't feel the need for attention. They know - I hope they know - that what they're doing is incredibly valuable - and they don't feel the need to seek out recognition because of that, and it's the people who have really never done anything helpful who turn into attention whores. I don't know).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

argh (TMI, be forewarned)

This may embarrass the guys. Be forewarned.

I think I may be starting to go through "the change." I get really pukey the week before my period (I don't actually throw up but walk around with an upset stomach, like I have a low grade viral thing). And I get cold. And I feel a lot crappier, physically, than I ever remember feeling before. (Luckily, with me, PMS is almost entirely physiological - I don't get the upset/cranky/easily brought to tears set up that some women get). I just kind of hurt, get muscle aches and things. And I'm tired, which really sucks. I get into bed to read and manage maybe fifteen minutes before I'm starting to fall asleep and drop the book and stuff.

I remember when my mom was starting - I didn't even realize what it was, I was kind of young - she was throwing up all the time. (She spent most of the family trip to Disney World looking for restrooms and staying off of the roller coasters).

Or maybe it's what they call perimenopause. I don't know. Whatever it is, it kind of sucks.

(I asked my gyn at the last appointment, her response was, "This is unfortunately how it sometimes goes for people; I can't find anything wrong with you that would suggest that it's anything BUT what you think it is").

She also thinks that for me - given family history and such - I could be dealing with this for as long as ten years. Oh joy.

Thank goodness for those buckwheat things you can heat up in the microwave and put on the ouchie parts, and for candied ginger (it keeps me from being TOO pukey without having to resort to something that might have side effects).

I've never complained about being female - I never felt discriminated against because of my gender and such - and I never had problems before. But I'm kind of not looking forward to dealing with this every month for the next 120 months, if my gyn is right. I don't know if soy would help; I tend not to eat much soy because my mom's actually allergic to it and I've heard that it may not be a great idea to eat TOO much; if you develop a cancer that feeds on estrogen it can make it worse. And I'm kind of unwilling to go the herbal route and take black cohosh and such; I have such weird reactions to some medications that have been rigorously tested that I sort of fear the herbals and what they might do to me.

The upset stomach and not-being-able-to-eat-normally is the worst part; I rely on dry cereal a lot for my meals because it's one thing I can trust not to make me feel worse. The people who make Cheerios probably never thought of that as a marketing strategy...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Heh (II)

(because that second line is in teeny weeny eyestrain-o-vision: it says, "Those really were the droids you were looking for.")

We need to rename the swine flu....

And call it the kid flu instead.

Because apparently some pigs caught the flu from a group of children visiting the fair they were at.

Danged anklebiters! They will kill us all!


In a comment on the previous post, Ken was talking about (I think) Pioneer House or Frontier House or one of those.

There was a series of [Something] House programs that ran from time to time on PBS. I liked them, even if I didn't like the inevitable sniping and the "video confessionals" (usually featuring tearful teenagers who DIDN'T KNOW THIS WAS GOING TO BE SO HARD!!!)

But his comment about "not enough wood. You died." sounds almost like a real-life version of Oregon Trail, the old computer game.

(And heh. Why don't they do a reality show of that? If for no other reason than it would make thousands of Gen-Xers cackle with recognition when the smarmy host (there has to be a smarmy host) hands a card to one team of players telling them that they have died of dysentery.)

I will say I enjoyed 1940s House, which was set in wartime Britain, because I've always been interested in the whole stiff-upper-lip response of Britons to the various fears and deprivations of that time. Even reading some first-person accounts written during that time, people seemed remarkably stoic - almost heroic by today's standards - in response to what was going on.

Also on 'craftivism' - some of you know that I knit and make quilts. I do it because I find it therapeutic and because I like the finished products I can make. It's not cheaper to knit a sweater than it is to buy one (though maybe, level of quality for level of quality, the price would be comparable). And I realize it's perhaps slightly absurd in our modern times to spend a couple months working on something I could buy. But as I said, I enjoy it and take a certain pride in the finished product. And I think being able to make something - whether it's baking your own bread, playing music, doing woodwork, writing stories, making soap, doing embroidery, whatever - is good for many people's souls. (Especially those of us who work in careers where the "finished product" is so intangible). But feeling oneself "better" somehow because you can make stuff....that's just kind of irritating.

(Unless you're doing it in a silly, "here's how I could survive the Zombie Apocalypse" way. And yeah, I've done that...pointed out to people that not only can I make bread, but I can make YEAST (well, given the right conditions, some boiled potato, and willing microbes in the air). But that's just being silly and funny.)

I don't know what it is about some people that drives them to need to point out how they are superior. Some kind of a sense of inferiority, I suppose.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I hate "craftivism"

Or, "I'm SO much better than YOU because I make and drink my own almond milk": here.

I mean, yeah, fine. If you drink soy or almond or rice milk instead of the stuff that comes from cows, God bless you. I know people who can't drink cow's milk and the other kinds are a blessing. And good for you if you've figured out how to make it yourself.

but for the love of all that's good, don't paint the rest of us as plasticizer-swilling, landfill-filling, animal-abusing Neandertals because you can.

Thanks so much.

crying wolf

Okay, apparently the Jiffy Pop Flying Saucer Baby story was designed to draw attention to the family. (Because they're attention whores, it seems: they were on a reality show a couple times, and apparently the kids seem coaxed in their interviews (I did not watch them).

You know, this is why I think people need to learn the old, old fables and stories as children. (A while back I remarked on my surprise that none of my Youth Group kids knew, or at least admitted to knowing, the Little Red Hen story).

We need to remind people of the Boy Who Cried Wolf story. You have too many of these fake crap "news" stories where someone's ginned something up to draw attention to themselves (wonder if the family's got a book deal yet?), and eventually a REAL tragedy will happen and no one will give a crap.

The only sad thing is that the attention-whores will never be the one in the real serious dire straits; it will be some innocent person who genuinely needs help but no one wants to believe them.

(And apparently the kid hurled on-camera when being interviewed? Twice? I knew someone once who could apparently barf at will, I'm just sayin'...)

I don't know. On the one hand, I like that there is 24 hour news on now; it seems a lot of the more cockroachy things that go on politically get a bright light shined on them. But on the other hand, it seems that stories that lack even the weakest leg to stand on get played up, spun up, into a huge froth, with no critical thinking.

Okay, I admit it: I was out driving yesterday. I heard the news report on the radio. And I said a prayer that the kid was OK. And I said to myself, "oh, this is not going to end well" when they opened up the thing and there was no kid in it, and they said there was a claim that someone saw something like a gondola falling off the thing. So I feel kind of used when apparently the kid, thinking a "show" was being put on, hid in the attic the whole time and didn't come out.

I think the family should have to reimburse all the "rescuers." And I hope to God there was no one in actual danger at that time who got pushed aside because of this.

For once I'd like to see someone getting recognition for actually doing something GOOD and WORTHWHILE. But any more, it seems that a talent for self-promotion is what wins accolades and attention.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

something else I hope is right

I know it's wrong to wish death on someone, even someone you regard as a threat and an enemy. But, they were talking on the radio news this morning about a rumor that the Ayatollah Khameni had died.

I am inclined to doubt its veracity - wouldn't there be mourning going on in Iran, and not business-as-usual? But, apparently, if this Ayatollah were gone, Achmedinejad might be on his way out (or so the analyst that they talked to on the news said).

Again: ohpleaseohpleaseohplease. (And yes, I know: they might wind up with someone even crazier than Achmedinejad. Though maybe only EQUALLY crazy; I'm not sure it's possible to be crazier than him and still function). But then again, as I've said before: from everything I've read, the Iranian people are by and large decent people who do not seem to support the Achmedinejad regime. And I can hope that a weakening in leadership could lead to BETTER leadership. (Even leadership that doesn't want to wipe Israel off the map would be an improvement).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I hope he's right...

Health Care Overhaul Plan May Die


I have to admit, this is the number 1 thing scaring me right now. Because I think there's a reasonable chance (though apparently less than there was yesterday) of some putrid combination of Baucus' plan and Reid and Pelosi's "ideas" being shoved down our collective throats (or other bits; I suppose you could call it the Congressional Pap Smear of 2009 if you wanted to be gross).

There's so much that could potentially go wrong: taxing people's insurance (Um, mine is a benefit. I don't pay anything for it actually, so would I have to pay taxes on that $500 or so a month worth of benefits?). Criminalizing people choosing not to buy insurance (I'm sorry, but WTF? If I didn't get insurance through work, I'd certainly buy some form of it privately, but I think people should be allowed to CHOOSE). Not to mention what I fear will be more things like the balls-up we're having around here about BOTH H1N1 and regular flu vaccine: we've been told "unless you are a small child, a health care worker, or a pregnant woman, expect NOT to be able to get the H1N1 vaccine" And even then, those high-risk groups won't see it until November, likely, at this point.

And not to mention idiocies like taxing soda pop, or making fatties like me step on a scale and assessing our taxes based on our weight. (Seriously: if they WANT me to develop an eating disorder that they will have to pay to treat?)

Don't get me wrong: I am completely in favor of having SOMETHING in place to help people who don't get insurance through work and can't afford it. But why screw up things for the 85% or so of us who are happy with the status quo? (And for gosh sakes: do not hoover more money out of my paycheck to cover people who are here illegally.)

So I hope this writer over at Cato is correct. And then maybe cap-and-trade could fall apart next, while we're asking?

Random Stuffs


Nutella is a hazelnut/chocolate spread. I think it originated in Italy. It is delicious, so of course, that means it's evil and fattening and will probably eventually be banned. (Perhaps Nutella bootlegging should be the future career I could look into). It's kind of like peanut butter infused with chocolate. (Incidentally, it has no trans fats - just the good old-fashioned kind of fat).

"Cankles," which is one of my most-hated words, is a contraction (I think) of "calf-ankle" - meaning women who have heavy ankles, like their calves extend down farther than they normally would. It's just another way that women are judged and found to have value/not have value based on their appearance. And "cankles" (like "cheerleader legs," another apparently undesirable trait) are not something we exactly have control over - if you have them, you could diet, and you still might not lose them. (I think there's now a surgery. So they've pathologized yet another thing.)


Another ridiculous story: apparently Ralph Lauren fired a model for being "too fat." She was 5' 9" and weighed 120 pounds.

I am just making this observation in part to remind myself not to buy anything produced by Ralph Lauren Industries. Because obviously -as someone shorter than 5'9" and considerably more than 120 pounds - they don't want my business.


I'm going shopping this weekend. A guy on Glenn Beck told me to.

(Yeah, I half-watch Glenn Beck. I don't believe all of what he says - if he did, I'd already be in that Unabomber-without-bombs cabin in the woods. But he's an entertaining madman and I do think some of his points make sense, particularly about people stepping up and taking responsibility)

Well, anyway, this dude was talking about the shrinking dollar and how he feared a coming currency crisis - and Beck said to him, "So, do you think it would be a good idea to go out and stock up on non-perishables now, so you have them when the SHTF?" (paraphrasing). And the guy said yeah.

And okay, he was referring to food - but I have LOTS of canned food on hand, and even some dried camping food. (In fact, I need to start using stuff up). But if the dollar tanks, and the little luxuries of life become unobtainable...well, that allows me to justify going out and stocking up on books and nice soap and good tea and that sort of thing.

(This is "found money" in a sense - money I earned over and above my basic salary by doing some "over and above" work. So it's not like I'm emptying out my "emergency fund" or draining my 457b to do it.)

I've decided this fall that life is somewhat uncertain, and that being as much of a cheapskate as I used to be - for example, keeping the thermostat set low (borderline uncomfortable) to save money on my heating bills - just doesn't make that much sense any more. If I can afford it, if it doesn't majorly compromise my future (I put away some $700 of my paycheck each month for retirement, on top of what the government's syphoning off for the supposed Social Security lockbox and on top of my state "teacher's pension plan" - neither of those plans I anticipate to still be in operation by the time I hit retirement)

But you know? We might all be blown to Kingdom Come by then, if Iran gets the nuke. Or we might all become slaves of some other nation. Or we might all be dead of the swine flu - or whatever the next big pandemic is. Or we might get government-run, single-payer health-care, and so, people like me (no kids, over 40) be deemed "expendable" and allowed to die whenever we develop cancer or heart disease.

Or, more likely, there may be a VAT coming, or some kind of tax-on-savings or God knows what to fund all the crap Congress wants to do.

So what's the point of scrimping and saving too much, if all those scrimpings are either taken away from me, or if I am not around to use them?

So anyway. I have a bit of time off this weekend (it's mid-semester), so I'm going to go and take a day and go to not-the-usual-Boutiqueville-I-go-to-but-another-one and take a day to enjoy the fact that I have money to spend.

And I realize that this flies in the face of all the "New Frugality" crap, and the "save save save your money" dicta, but you know? I've also come to the conclusion that a lot of the advice that comes over the teevee doesn't apply to me. Because I'm already doing the stuff they are telling people to do. And just because some people are idiots and buy a house that costs eight times their annual salary or something, and so now they're saying on the television "Don't go out to eat! Get all your books from the library instead of buying books! Cancel your cable...whoops, no, don't do that 'cos you couldn't watch us!" they don't mean me.

Just like they probably don't mean me when they snark about how Americans don't exercise. Or about how all our diets are so crappy (Shepherd Smith going ape over the fact that a Krispy Kreme cheeseburger exists - I wouldn't eat one myself, but I don't think they should be BANNED or anything like that).

I just need to learn that. That I'm not as stupid and lazy as the news media apparently thinks I am, and the crap they're spewing doesn't apply to me.

And that includes the money thing. I'm very frugal in a lot of ways, but as I said, I do like a nice lunch out now and then (And I'm careful about what I eat, but I like a nice piece of cake now and then, if the place I'm eating has a decent baker). And I like being able to go out and buy stuff without worrying about "how will I pay for this" (I get the money in cash, and spend cash).

So yeah. I'm gonna stock up. Just not on what exactly the "OMG DOLLAR IS FAILING" guy said.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still in Bizarro world, I see

News of the weird continues:

People are snarking on Nutella's ad about, gasp, people eating Nutella.

Okay, okay: the controversy is in feeding it to your kids. On whole-wheat toast. And claiming it is a "healthy" breakfast.

But, dear Lord, people, Apple Jacks has done that for years, with the caveat that the kid eat some "real" fruit along with the Apple Jacks. (And, yes, I know. Frosted Flakes is apparently now only for kids to eat after soccer practice to try to replace the glycogen they used up running around. It is apparently No Longer For Breakfast).

You know what? I sometimes eat Nutella on whole wheat toast for breakfast. It's GOOD. And the fat content keeps me from getting hungry before lunch time rolls around (which may be 1 pm some days). I don't put very much on - in fact, too much doesn't taste that good. But I'm sure the nutrition-nannies would want to put me in a time-out for doing that.

I know little kids are apparently different now, but when I was a little kid I had to almost be force-fed peanut butter to keep the weight ON. I didn't like to eat - had to be coaxed - and I generally preferred running around outside to sitting in front of the tv. And I was a monumentally picky eater; my parents DID "doctor" food to make it more palatable to me, figuring that my eating carrots with brown sugar on them was preferable to my not eating carrots at all. (Later on, we found out I have a food intolerance to carrots and should not eat them)

But I guess now kids are little sacks of lard, who will only move, amoeba-like, off the couch for the siren call of the next serving of fat and sugar. Or something.

I'm sure the next campaign will be: "Show your kids how much you love them! Give them dry whole grain toast for breakfast! And water to drink!"

In other news, Some designer (of whom I have never heard) says Barbie has "cankles" and wants to redesign her feet..

Okay. Here is my suggestion to all clothing designers who are troubled by the fact that women, even models, possess flesh, and that somehow detracts from their designs:

Call up an anatomical-supply house. Buy a bunch (say, 15) model skeletons. They are not that expensive when you consider the cost of hiring models. They also come with a handy little hanger in the top of the skull- so you can rig some kind of a carousel system, like what dry cleaners used to have, so you can move them around the catwalk.

Because then people could see what you really think of women. That they are really just racks upon which your clothes should be hung.

And oh, for that matter, you should frame your clothing in giant sealed shadowboxes. So it can be hung on the wall to be art, and so it never has to be dirtied by an actual human being wearing it. You might even want to consider selling boxes of air, and tell people there is clothing in there, but only the truly hip and fashionable can see it.

The rest of us, we'll spend our dollars elsewhere.

And then - and I can't find a good story link for this but heard it briefly on the news this morning: Rush Limbaugh wants to buy the St. Louis Rams. But Jesse Jackson and company are going to "lobby" to prevent him from buying them.

First off: I'm not a fan of Rush. I don't listen to his show. I find other commentators more to my liking. But lots of people listen to him, he really was the one who opened the door for talk radio.

And I don't have problems with the OWNER of a business choosing not to sell to someone (An example: the bar owner refusing to serve someone who's been overserved already. Or the bookstore owner who asks someone who has come in with five sticky-handed children to leave before their kids ruin more of his books). In fact, I wish more restaurant owners and such had more cojones re: people on cell phones, people with loud kids, people having arguments loudly in public.

But I do have a problem with third parties coming and TELLING people "don't sell to this person." Because this is how we get the Nanny State: someone decides either "I don't like this person so we should be able to freeze them out" or "I'm going to keep this person from a product for their own good."

The "I don't like this person so you shouldn't sell to them" is particularly worrisome because I can see it quickly becoming a racket: "You want that I and my people should still buy from you? Then don't sell to this certain particular individual, this individual that we do not like. And if you do not stop that particular individual from buying from you, it will not be good for you, capisce?"

Life is already too damn much of a popularity contest, anyway. (see: The Nobel Peace Prize).

But the "for their own good" is probably the real way we will slowly lose our freedoms. Because people will be made to believe that they will be safer, or healthier, or more SOMETHING by allowing the requested restriction.

An example of "for their own good" that kind of backfired: the whole decongestants-behind-the-counter-because-they-can-be-used-to-make-meth thing.

I'll admit, when the idea was first floated, I was kind of in favor of it. I had a friend who unwittingly bought a house next door to what had been a meth house, and the cleanup process (and his concerns about, "What if the waste they left catches fire when I'm not home") was unpleasant. And I don't like hearing about cops raiding a place and finding two-year-olds wandering around the hazardous waste while their meth-head parents cook the stuff.

But you know? I don't know how much the ban has helped. It does not seem that there are fewer "convicted of meth possession" cases in the paper. There's been no report of a decline in numbers of people using the crap, and I think there would, if there were.

Instead, we have the meth being made by (I am told) Mexican gangs in Mexico, and brought here by gang members, or also distributed by people in violent skinhead gangs. So instead of Bubba or Joe-Jack making the stuff - which was bad enough - we have organized, violent people who also have an interest in protecting their "market share." And who have no objection to killing those who get in their way. That is not an improvement.

And yeah, Limbaugh is a "polarizing figure." And maybe he did say some unfortunate things about race, as Jackson claims (Though I don't know, seeing as I'm WORKING when his show is on, and seeing as I probably would listen to something else at that time anyway). Jackson himself is kind of a polarizing figure, no?

I wonder how he'd feel if someone wanted to stop him from doing something (legal, and something he could afford) that he wanted to do? (I think I can guess).

I don't know. I'm kind of ready to be done with this attitude of "I know better and so I should be allowed to interfere in everyone's lives" that so many have now - the Health Police, the Eat-Local-Or-Die groups, the Turn-off-your-AC-or-the-Polar-Bear-Gets-It League, the We-Know-Better-Than-You folks.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Does Spock have a beard?

Or is Superman actually Bizarro?

Or...I can't think of any other related questions.

I feel like I'm living in Bizarro World. We bombed the moon? (Yes, I know, it's for SCIENCE, but still). Obama won the Peace Prize? Wait? What?

Is this what happens when the baby boomers who toked up and dropped a lot of acid in the '60s take charge? The world gets weird? I'm not sure I like it.

I'm bracing for more weird news. I just hope it's stupid-weird and not bad-weird.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jamie Oliver, go the F home...

Seriously. He is now in West Virginia, and is apparently going to nanny at the residents there about how they are too fat and eat crap.

I used to love "the Naked Chef," I enjoyed the simple recipes and stuff. But I am irritated that he's now using his position to act all superior to people.

I foresee LOTS more of this. LOTS. Even if we don't see laws restricting food or certain people's access to certain foods, we're going to have more guilt-trips laid upon us for simply enjoying food.

Look, I'm tired of people wanting to save us from ourselves. I'm tired of being told how I'm going to get Teh Diabeeeeetus! because I don't obsess every waking moment about not-eating and exercising more than I already do.

If you WANT me to develop an eating disorder, I'd understand the nannying better. Because seriously, if I lived in a house with someone who was constantly after me in the way the news heads talk about obesity and Teh Diabeeetus! and heart disease and cankles and everything else, I probably WOULD. Just to shut the idiot up.

It's a form of psychological warfare. They can't tie a would-be terrorist to a chair to interrogate him, but they can tell millions of American people that they're fat, repulsive, will be dead soon, are a major drain on health care, should be taxed more because of their fatty fat fatness, that they should "just push back from the table already," that they should "cultivate an attitude of avoiding sugar," that they should learn to fear and loathe food...and that's just peachy keen.

It's NOT about our health so much as it's about control. I don't think Oliver is the worst of these; he still seems to enjoy food. But the worst people, the real joyless Puritan sorts - it's almost as if they are disturbed by the fact that someone, somewhere is happy. THAT MUST BE STAMPED OUT! Especially if the happiness is coming as a result of pumpkin-chocolate-chip cookies, or a chai tea with full-fat milk and real sugar in it, or a nice big well-marbled steak.

There was some "dietician" on Fox News the other day talking about banning school bake sales to "save" little children from becoming obese. (She was a size 2, and I suspect NEVER struggled to keep her weight down. It's NOT simply a matter of "pushing back" from the table or avoiding sweets. And even if it were - telling someone to NEVER enjoy something sweet because it's "bad" for them and might make them fat is fairly cruel.)

Dammit, there WILL come a point when I get so fed up with this that I shoot my TV.

Gah. This is my biggest issue. I know I constantly bore people on here with it but it makes me utterly insane. I do make an effort to eat "healthfully" and I do work out an hour most days. I am sufficiently healthy that it is rare I have used up my $500 health insurance deductible before August. And yet, I am made to feel like "the enemy" because I am bigger than a size 8, and that's wrong and MEAN and evil.

And yet people justify it as being OK because it's "for my own good."

Amendments I'd like to see.

I'm no Constitutional scholar, and I realize there's a lot of stuff that shouldn't be amendments, but I can think of two amendments I'd like to see. That I think we need:

1. Congress shall pass no bill less than 72 hours after a final form of the bill has reached the floor. (This is in some DESPERATE hope that people will actually READ the damn bills, or at least have their staff minions read them and summarize them. I fear for what kind of legislation is going through unread).

2. No amendment, rider, or addition shall be made to a bill that is not related to the original purpose of the bill. (No more paperclipping BS stuff onto the back of some bill that's likely to pass. No "stealth" additions...I heard it rumored on some program yesterday that lots of stuff was getting tacked on to bills semi-secretly. I'm sure it's gone on for years but it scares me...we could wind up with all kinds of bad legislation that way).

I don't know. I'm getting really fed up with Congress right now. I'm afraid our next Congress and our next President are going to have a lot of bad messes to clean up. (If we even get people with the will to clean up messes).

I don't want to live under the Victorian boot of a nanny-state, but I'm fearful that's where we're headed. With the new story about "Calorie labeling on menus doesn't seem to be making those fatty fat fatties stop eating their horrible horrible fast food," I fear there will be a push to restrict what can be sold - or who can buy things.

(And I know if it comes, it will be so ****ing hypocritical my head will blow up. Kobe beef and organic-milk fatty cheese from free range cows that get bedtime stories read to them every night will still be sold, but the more "proletarian" forms of fatty food will be verboten. Just like we'll be told to live without air conditioning so the celebs and politicians can jet off whereever they want when ever they want)

I ate a peanut butter cup last night, and thought, "What if this is the last peanut butter cup I ever get to enjoy, because some sweeping "reform" might come under the guise of keeping health-care costs low, that would either ban them or would ban people like me from buying them?" (Hrm. Maybe I could become a peanut butter cup bootlegger and make my fortune that way. But sadly, I have no descendants that could then become the next political dynasty in this country....)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Not impossible

I just had one of the other students in. He stopped by and said, "I'm having some trouble with the homework, can you help me?"

So I sat down with him and talked him through the first problem. And he was all, "Oh, wait. I get it now." And he talked through the second one and he did get it.

So this is not impossible. You just have to be willing to try multiple times.

I interpret the problem person's problem as that perhaps she's never had to try hard before, that she's never hit up against something she had a hard time with, and it's making her shut down a little.

And maybe that's irritating me in particular because I see vestiges of the "old me" in that - I used to be that way, back before grad school, back before I realized that failing at something often doesn't mean failing forever, but rather means that the first approach you took didn't work and you need to try something new.

I'm not quite sure how to convey that idea to her - it was something I had to learn by experience - but I think once she realizes that (a) she doesn't know everything already and (b) having a hard time at something doesn't mean it's impossible/you suck at it/the person who's teaching it can't teach, life becomes a lot easier.

Monday, October 05, 2009

grow a pair. Or cowgirl up. Or put on your big-girl panties. Or something

I have this one student who is driving me up the wall. This person is a non-traditional student, is very vocal about things, sometimes acts somewhat entitled...but at other times acts like she's not worthy of help.

She's having trouble in my stats class. So she gets all huffy during class and makes all those annoying sounds (you know, "Tsch-ah!" and moaning and groaning and muttering things) during class. And I know, before you ask, that it's NOT a Tourette's issue or anything - I've had her in other classes, she has control, she's just not choosing to use it here.

And it's driving me NUTS.

I have to pay hard attention while teaching lest I write a formula or something wrong on the board. And having an undercurrent of moaning and muttering, 'but what is x-bar again?' and all this sort of low-level noise going on behind me makes me more prone to screw up.

And when I stop and ask if she has a question, she goes, "oh, no, no, don't mind me" and puts on a poor face.


And then she bugs the guy sitting next to her to tell her.

I've given what help I can give. (I even scheduled a class day devoted to re-explaining some of the stuff she seemed to be having trouble with. Guess what, she was not there that day). I'm here in my office ten damn hours a week. She rarely comes in outside of class for help.

I get the sense she's on the verge of giving up. It seems to me that she believed this was going to be easy - she had a previous stats class (but mine is more challenging and people learn more in it; everyone says that) and she claims to be good at math. But it seems like she shuts down in class and gives up at some point.

And yet, at the same time, it's like she has a somewhat inflated concept of her abilities: like, it's my fault she doesn't understand, because, you know, she's really really smart.

And I'm trying my damnedest to explain stuff slowly and as simply as possible and work LOTS of examples and show all the work...and still she gets POd.

And it's getting on my nerves. I don't know what to do. I know she's probably complaining loudly behind my back to other people but I don't really give a crap any more. I'm doing my best. She seems unwilling to stretch that little tiny bit of extra distance (which is really what it seems: if she just stretched a bit more, she'd make it) to learn the stuff.

(It doesn't help that she's unpredictably absent. She's what I call a "multiple problem person" - she has stuff going on in her life, some of it not her fault, that makes her life harder. But still).

I don't know. I don't know what to say to her to get her to shut up without ticking her off or turning her off even more. But I'm really ready to be done with this exchange:

"mmmmumble grumble groan tsch-ah!"

"Do you have a question? Is something here confusing?"

"No, no, don't mind me. I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND."

"What don't you understand? What would you like me to explain again?"


So I keep going, and then she leans over and bugs the guy next to her to find out what x-bar is again. (And other stuff she SHOULD know by now).

Does Chuck Norris rent himself out to come to classes? I'd love to have him sit next to her. Oh, I don't want him to roundhouse kick her or anything; all I'd need would be for him to say, "Could. You. Shut. Up. I. Am. Trying. To. Listen."

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I heart Saturdays

This is one of the rare-ish Saturdays where I don't have work-work to do: no grading, no exams to write. I do have some research-reading but I don't mind that; it isn't on any urgent schedule, it's something I do largely for myself, if an article is really poorly written I can often leave it unfinished. (And I can knit while I read).

My Sunday school lesson for the week is done. I do have to run out to the PO to pick up a package but then I can stay home for the rest of the day (It's supposed to rain.)
It's gotten cooler here and now feels like fall, and that makes staying indoors and reading even more attractive.

And I feel kind of good because of two things: first, I've been having a few college kids come to my youth group (One of the "stalwarts" of the group is a freshman himself this year, and he has invited people). I saw one of the girls who visited in my building on campus - just kind of in passing, she was down the hall from me - and when she saw me, she got a big smile on her face and waved at me. (I waved back). It makes me happy because I figure that meant she felt welcome in the group when she visited and that she was glad to see me again.

Also, my co-leader said that one of the kids told her (she was giving him a ride home) that he really liked my lessons and was learning a lot from them. So that makes me feel good; it makes me feel like I'm on the right track. I've got something a little different planned for tomorrow: role playing. One kid is going to have the role of "everything is going wrong in my life right now, God must hate me, what did I do so wrong?" and the other kids are going to try to encourage him. I do still need to look up some scripture (maybe some from Job, maybe some from some of the Epistles) for back-up, but I think the kids will find it interesting. (I hope. If this works well I may do a role-playing format for a while; I have a bunch of other ideas of things)

One of the reasons I pushed to finish the grading - even though it dang near killed me* - so I could just be DONE with it for a while. (I will say, the students by and large did better on this exam than on the previous one. Many of the regular-attenders got better grades; I assume that's because after the first exam they went, "OK, I see she means business. I need to actually study." And they did. And they did decently. And I hope most of them will go, "OK, I've kind of got it dialed in now; now I need to study more and try to bring my grade up more." I kind of got that feeling from talking to a couple of the students, that they just hadn't worked hard enough for the first exam. Of course, the people who aren't responsible and don't attend regularly, they will have failed because it is my fault.)

*(Heh. Makes me think of an old redneck joke, of which I only remember the punchline now: "Rectum? Damn near KILLED 'em!")

So I'm going to stay home, enjoy the peace and quiet, read some, cook something nutritious for lunch (part of my recent distress, I think, was that I was so busy I was doing the sort of grab-and-go eating, and I don't think I was getting optimum nutrition. I FEEL better when I'm getting enough protein and good vitamins and lots of different fruits and vegetables. And I don't think it's just because I'm less stressed and have more time.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

I'm an evil prof

But I admit it, I get a little bit of a sense of vindication (and a wee tiny bit of shameful joy) when a student who can't be arsed to come to class does poorly on an exam - an exam that the people who DO come and DO participate do reasonably well on.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's a good thing I'm not a drinking woman

Because I'd be hitting the sauce (at quarter past 8 am) over these student papers.

I very nearly wrote "WTF????" on one of them.

The "issue" (good God I hate having to do "issue" papers with students) was "should American citizens be required to submit DNA to a DNA bank for the purposes of solving crimes."

Now, I have to say, first off, I'm opposed to it. Because, mainly, "Innocent until proven guilty"? And DNA can be misused. And just the idea that I'm assumed to be a potential criminal.

Most of the students see no problem with it. (I worry for the future). Their assumption is, "I'm not going to commit a crime, and it makes me sad when the evening news talks about murder victims, so YAY DNA BANK!"

I doubt - given how most criminals lack a lot of foresight, which is why they're CRIMINALS - that Joe Childrapist is going to go, "Wait....if I diddle this kid, they could find me and lock me up because of the DNA bank." No. I don't exactly see that happening.

But what really is driving me up the wall? So far, several people have said, "DNA banks are good because we can use the information to cure disease." THAT IS NOT THE STINKING QUESTION.

One person - the nearly-received-a-WTF - made some comment about nuclear weapons, and how DNA information could be used to target and wipe out whole races of people, and how that was bad. (I don't quite get it. That's my best interpretation).

I don't know. The students are generally OK in this class, and the first couple papers weren't so horribly bad. BUT I think some of them have either reached the phoning-it-in point of the semester, or they're assuming I don't actually READ the damn papers.

I don't know. I can see myself ordering myself a little "sympathy gift" off of Amazon this afternoon when I get these done. I feel like I deserve SOMETHING for it.

Edited to add: once again, my non-trad students come through! They present more reasoned arguments, including one person who points out that a mandatory DNA bank could be seen as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. So maybe these 18 year olds whose heartstrings are tugged hard enough to tie up their reason will mature into folks who can stop and think and go, "Is this really such a good idea?"