Burn, baby, burn

28 04 2016

I am notably flexible when it comes to paper deadlines—and that is biting me in the ass this week.

I give my students a due date, then, a week or two before the due date, tell them that if anyone wants more time, s/he needs only email me prior to that due date and I’ll give them a week extension, no questions asked. (More than a week requires an explanation.)

It’s easy enough to do: I don’t have TAs so I don’t have to worry about disrupting someone else’s schedule, and my classes are small enough (35 or under) that, even with multiple classes, I can get the grading done.

Why not just make the deadline the week-later date? Well, then I’d have to be a bitch about deadlines, lay on penalties, and otherwise stress out all concerned. This way, I have the flexibility to offer my students flexibility—something which is appreciated by all concerned.

Anyway, this usually works out fine, but I am currently grading papers and projects for all of my classes and, well, that’s where the ass-biting comes in. It’s actually more of an minor ass-nibbling, as I’m on spring break so do have the time to grade (while also still having some time to break).

Still, all that grading is officially the reason why I’m not writing much on my blog this week.

All of that said (she said in a very long preamble), I couldn’t pass up this exquisite put-down:

Sven Mary, the attorney for accused Paris bomb suspect Salah Abdeslam, said his client had “the intelligence of an empty ashtray”.

Not just an ashtray—an empty ashtray.

Beautiful.

h/t The Stranger





Well, something’s lost but something’s gained

20 04 2016

This is the year we all turn 50.

School-year, I mean, so some of us got a head start last fall, but as of this past weekend, only one us is still waiting on her birthday.

B. had left a message for me on my birthday saying Hey, let’s all get together in Chicago in April, and mirabilis dictu, we all got together in Chicago in April.

We’re old now—one of us is soon to be a grandmother—and we have the wrinkles and dyed hair to prove it. And yes, there were discussions of creaking bones and medical tests and demurrals from that last glass of beer or wine. And yes, we talked about high school classmates and who died, who divorced, who married whose ex, and of old crushes and friends who’ve fallen away.

But mostly we talked and walked and laughed. We walked to Millennium Park and the Navy Pier, took distorted pictures of ourselves in the Bean (I have no idea what it’s actually called), wandered through the old Chicago Public Library building and decided that paying 10 bucks to get married by a justice of the peace in one of its splendid halls would be a very good deal. We took an architectural tour via the Chicago River (we were all terribly impressed with the tour guide) and wandered around the WGN building gazing at and occasionally patting the embedded stones from around the world.

We ate Chicago-style pizza.

Now, here I have to mention that I tried really (well, pretty) hard not to be a tiresome New Yorker and comment on everything Second City, but when it came to the deep-dish pizza, I had to say “Chicago-style”. (B. did, however, agree with me that “pizza” really did mean New York pizza.)

Anyway, it was good.

The whole weekend was good. The conversation zipped around and around and we were all quite agreeable with one another. I swore too much and P. and T. competed with how many steps each took, and the four of us in line for the river tour weren’t entirely sure the other two would make it back from the bathroom in time, but as we parted on Sunday we all agreed we should do this again, maybe in Chicago, maybe in Milwaukee, but yes, definitely, we should get together to eat and drink and walk and talk and laugh and laugh and laugh, at ourselves and all we’ve been through and all that’s yet to come.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Oh won’t you stay just a little bit longer

14 04 2016

It helps to have low expectations of one’s president.

I think that’s a big part of why I’m not really into the Democratic primary: there’s nothing about either of them which leads me to think he or she would be an A-MAZING president.

I like Sanders’s focus on economics and that Clinton’s a hard-ass; I don’t know that Sanders would be that effective and I distrust Clinton’s instincts. That said, I think both would bring in good people to help compensate for their respective weaknesses. So, y’know, they’re both fine.

Still, like many others, I do think that a president can exceed expectations, and when that happens, it’s hard to say So long.

It’s gonna be hard for me to say So long to President Obama.

Oh, there are all kinds of policy decisions with which I disagree with him, and there are certainly disappointments—you probably have your own list—but man, this guy just gets presidenting.

It’s true that I prefer a cool to a hot temperament (not least because I run towards hot, so am unimpressed with it), but I also think a president has to have some kind of core calmness if he or she is to do the job. It’s an impossible job: the president has to make far too many decisions based on both too much and too little information and more often than not has to try to control situations which are not controllable. Thus, the person in that chair has to reconcile him- or herself to the absurdities of the powerlessness of the most powerful position on the planet if he or she is to have any chance at all at failing well.

And yes, he or she will fail, precisely because it is an impossible job. The only issue is will she or he fail well or fail miserably.

President Obama has failed well, exceedingly well. He has grown into his role rather than having been shriveled by it. He seems, against all odds, to enjoy being president, perhaps because he’s never much paid attention to odds.

I wonder if this is how Republicans feel or felt about President Reagan: that the job of the president just seemed to fit him.  That I hated Reagan’s policies meant I was never able fully to see the man’s political gifts, and as Bill Clinton (who wasted what gifts he did have) was the only Democratic president in my adulthood, there were few opportunities for wistfulness at the end of a presidency.

But yeah, I’m wistful. For all of his faults and for all of my disagreements, I’m going to miss Barack Obama in the White House.

I don’t think I’ll see in my lifetime another president who will fail as well as he has.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Glad I’m not a Kennedy

7 04 2016

Really, glad I’m not a Republican.

I’m mean—yeah, given my views, obviously—but at least I don’t think either of the Democratic candidates is a dumpster fire. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about either, but, like Rebecca Schoenkopf and the Wonketteers, I’m pretty much they’re both fine, they’re both good.

Which is to say: what I like about each is what I distrust about each: Clinton’s practicality and Sanders’s impracticality. I’d say Let’s try to merge ’em, but then we’d end up with someone like Rod Blagojevich: completely cynical and a little insane.

(As an aside: this horseshit about Clinton’s ambition to be president as somehow bad is, shall we say, pretty rich coming from the campaign of someone running for president. Yeah, I know this kind of petty shit crops up in all campaigns and from the best of candidates, but shees: still annoying.)

No, this is what we’ve got: two people who would have different styles of governing but who each a) care about good governance; and b) would accomplish about the same as the other. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low—please try not to make things worse and if you can make them even a little bit better that would be great, thanks—so unless Clinton or Sanders runs off screaming into the night, they’ll be fine.

Trump and Cruz, on the other hand, don’t meet even that basic non-screamer standard. Cruz creeps people out—his most enthusiastic non-paid supporters seem to be those who spend the least time with him—and Trump lacks even the barest competence.

Yes, Cruz is intelligent, and yes, Trump has a certain, um, panache, but when it comes to governing, neither much cares: Trump supporters want to burn everything in their quest for GREATNESS and Cruz’s, well, christ, those who aren’t supporting him merely to stop Trump are waiting on some kind of red-white-and-blue Rapture.

Which is to say, if I’m a Republican who wants a president who can actually preside, I’m lookin’ at these two and thinking, Oh, boy.

I’m not concern trolling: I think Republicans as a whole are getting exactly who they deserve, and if either of those whos didn’t have a shot at the presidency, i.e., a chance at wrecking things for the rest of us, I’d be clapping in glee.

Still, I do feel a bit of sympathy for the ordinary Republican who just wants someone who’s not a night-screamer, someone who’s just, y’know, fine.





Wide awake

6 04 2016

Tuesdays wipe me out.

I teach 3 courses on Tuesday (for about 5 1/2h, total), which you’d think wouldn’t be that bad, and it’s not as if I’m up at the crack of dawn, but man, by the end of the day (~8:40), I have had it. Yeah, I manage to hustle to the train, but even if I have supremely good train mojo and make it home by 10, I am done.

I’m still tired today, and I’m not sure why: I went to bed slightly earlier than usual and got a decent night’s sleep, but man, I feel shriveled.

You’d think if I just went to bed early tonight, all would be well, right? Nope. In fact, as the evening stretches out, I’m actually perking up.

I’m not–or not, any longer—a severe night owl, but if I could get away with a 11am-2/3am wake schedule, yeah, I would.

Except, I could, and I don’t: I don’t teach until 2, so I could get up around 10:30, be on the train by 11:30, and get to campus in time to argue with Jtte for awhile before heading to class.

So why don’t I?

I mean, I’m not currently working my second job, so it’s not as if I need to be on a 9-5 schedule. And Athena knows I’m not getting much accomplished in the morning as it is.

No, I think the issue is that I think I should be on a normal (-ish) schedule and even though precisely no one would care that I’m not, it would seem like I’m slacking off if I a switched to a 2nd-and-a-half shift.

I also think I’m worried that I might have to return to a normal schedule at some point, and then, Oh no! WhatdoIdo?!

I’m not making any sense with myself. I do need to pick up some freelance work, but it’s not as if I couldn’t write—I’d rather write—at night instead of during the day.

And that’s just it: I’ve got me some writin’ to do, and writing requires night time.

Maybe that’s the excuse I need to break away from all of the non-judgement my friends and colleagues are not shoving my way and just, y’know, do what I can.

Because I’m a grown-ass woman, and this is something I actually can do.





Everybody knows the captain lied, 22

4 04 2016

Does wealth make people shitty, or does one have to be a  shitty person to become wealthy?

Because why, if you have a bajillion dollars, can you not afford to pay your fucking taxes?

I’m broke, and I pay my fucking taxes. No, I don’t like it, but I don’t like it in a way that civilized person who recognizes that one has to pay to live in a civilized society doesn’t like it, which is to say, I bitch, and I pay.

But you, rich person, you apparently have so much money that you can’t afford to pay taxes or child support, you can only afford to pay some shitheel middlemen to hide your money for you.

How “entirely typical”.