The Voyage of Captain Obvious

Grading is satanic

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

on anger and lifestyle

I came about the closest I've come in a long time to actually just breaking down and screaming at my students today. I don't know what it is, but for some reason, today, I just snapped at the wide variety of stupidity that they made me put up with today, in conjunction with the fucking lab I was working on being completely fucking broken. Anyway, after being asked the insanely self-evident question of whether we are having a final AND a test on the last week of class for approximately the 1,000th time, I just snapped a little bit and went on a tirade about why I was going through the decisions that I was, and how I was trying to be helpful, and as a result, the students were actually taken aback. I swear, I was about five minutes from a nervous breakdown by the time class ended.

The weird thing is, now I'm sitting at home trying to figure out exactly what sparked this reaction. I've been dealing with similar behavior all semester, and objectively, things in personal lifeland are actually starting to be looking up, after horribly bottomming out in the worst possible way about three or four weeks ago. I think that I have it figured out, though. This last month, with its series of thing after thing after THING after THING has had a twofold effect:

1) It's taken much more time than normal to internalize and comprehend everything that has and is happening to me

2) Just like when you've been punched a hundred times, the hundred and first punch hurts the most, despite being the weakest, I'm more or less emotionally bruised right now, and probably a little excessively sensitive to any nonsense bullshit that comes at me.

And so, when I have a shitty teaching day, normally, I can just shrug it off, maybe go for a run or get a beer at the local cowboy-themed sports bar, and I'm fine. Now, however, It's this horrible crushing blow that I have to analyze and write endless words about. Ugh. Not to mention that I turn on the news, and the only stories are shit like the Duke rape case and Bush's tit and tat with Iran, and it hardly serves to cheer me up.

However, the awesome horribleness of this new Mets theme song always has the power to cheer me up (via Deadspin). The world can only be so bad when I'm reminded that Pedro Martinez will strike me out. Shit I miss the rivarly with the Mets. As fun as it is to talk trash with the cubs, the "Mets are pond scum" era was absolutely fucking fantastic. DAAAAAR--yl DAAAAAAR--yl.

Apologies for the endless rant. Had to talk this out. Real posts shall be forthcoming.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's one thing when you act like a jerk politically...

But you really shouldn't fuck with life inside the diamond

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Our former Vice President

So, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not Al Gore is going to run for president in 2008. There's a lot of talk regarding the various speeches that he has been recently giving, and the progressive leaf that he has seemed to turn. My instinct is not to trust him, as he was once considered pretty darn progressive (remember Earth in the Balance?), but serving under Clinton for so long kinda tarnished that image, and then, after serving under the semi-popular Clinton, didn't know what sort of campaign to run.

And that's when it hit me, there is a historical metaphor to draw with Mr. Gore that noone has really made before--Al Gore is Hubert H. Humphrey. Both were senators that made bold strikes for progressive causes when younger (Humphrey most famously for civil rights during the 1948 democratic convention, Gore for the environment), and built their names up to the point that they would become Vice President, and see their running mates seemingly crush their opponents (in 1964 and 1996, respectively). But then, both individuals saw their running mates' presidencies collapse under scandal and despair--Johnson due to Vietnam, and Clinton due to his dumbass impeachment. Forced to stand point for the other guy, both suffered with respect to their public image, and ultimately, had no idea whether or not they wanted to run with or against the image of the outgoing president during their campaigns, which ended up lackluster and uneven, and would ultimately elect scandal ridden, paranoid two term republican successors.

I don't know whether or not this perspective makes me more or less likely to support Gore in the election. Probably not, though I think that he'd probably be my second or third choice after Russ Feingold and John Edwards. I also don't know whether or not he will revert back to the Clinton-era gore the second that pressure is applied to him. I don't know how this can even be determined until after he is in the general, and then that may be too late. With a George Allen or Sam Brownback presiency possibly at stake, I don't think that that is a risk that I, personally, would be willing to take. Who knows whether or not enough dem voters agree with me...

Regardless, this is all academic until after the 2006 elections, which will vastly change the political landscape for president 2008.

Friday, April 21, 2006


If you raised your children so that a red horned man with a pitchfork came down the chimney every Christmas to give them presents, and called this horned man 'satan claus', and then also attributed all evil to a red coated bearded man named the 'great santa', would this cause your child to grow up to be mentally distorted and messed up?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I hate teaching. I hate teaching a lot.

My past involves the humanities. I respect the study of literature and philsophy and art as much as the next person, probably more. But I think a broad, well-rounded mind is necessary for someone who is a college graduate. being a responsible citizen involves knowing about the world outside your own narrow specialty. At medium-sized lib arts school, where I did my undergrad, I thought this perspective was shared by many, and commonly held amonst Americans.

Naive, I know. My life at big state school has certianly shown me that this is certianly not the case. Academics are not at all a priority (or even an interest) of the average undergraduate here, and when they are, if it's not something that has to do with a particular students' major, then their attitude is to say 'fuck it.' So, I get stucke with the underachieving students in a non-major class, and it is a disaster with 60-90% of them.

Normally, I wouldn't care, and would just flunk them in bunches. But, I have explicit instructions to not do this, because big research institution is interested in passing students along in their mediocrity, so that they can grow up to be middle managers that have an open hostility to science because of how much it sucked in college, because they were given a class, that by default, is devoid of content. I teach a class that could only generously be called a high-school level course, and I still get complaints about how haaard it is. Because these students have never been pushed. Because learning isn't a priority so much as pushing the students along so as to not enrage the alumni, harm the 5 year graduation rate, and generally make the school look bad. Which is why it' isn't really the students fault so much as the university that has trained them not to give a fuck.

wonderful life, no?

There's a world of people dying out there

At least, so says Caroline Herring at least, but I tend to agree. It seems like a fact of life that the more that you get to know people, the more it's the case that they are hanging onto themselves by the skin of their teeth. It's a sad truth that we are shielded from as children and teenagers, when we get exposed to stories of rebellion and angst and love, but never of fundamentally unresolvable issues, of struggles with the self, both in terms of will and understanding.

Most people are fundamentally unhappy, and not due to the "keeping up with the jonses" matrerialism junk that most people promulgate as the main reason (though one could hardly argue that such a trend would be a non-contributor). It seems to be a deeper unhappiness than what mere dissatisfaction could explain. Perhaps it is because we are fundamentally alone. Perhaps it is because we can see too much that goes wrong, and munimize our risks rather than maximize our chance at happiness. Whatever the reason, the reaction inevitably makes things worse. So anyway, I hereby declare march 11th as help your rrened tduring an electin day

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In other news

I just recently found out about this via a friend. There seems to be relatively little talk about it over the internet, despite the fact that scooter has gifted the american left with a gigantic bombshell. Even those on the american right are left with no choice but to accept that either scooter libby is perjuring himself in his own domestic spying trial, or the president lied to the american public (scroll down to find the quote):

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there's all kinds of allegations. You've heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.

And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.

So, now it is the case that either libby is lying or the president is lying. Either Libby is lying or Bush should be impeached (particularly considering the standard of impeachment set by the 1998 congress). There is no third option. But I expect to hear nary a peep from the right, the press, or especially from anyone in the administration on this topic. It will quite neatly go away.


First, after his magnificent display this first series, I can't believe that noone, anywhere in the Cardinals blogosphere isn't talking about Albert Pujols and his quest for 100 HR. He is totally on pace to hit 162 this year, so I don't see why this much more modest goal isn't possible.

Second, it is always good to open the season with a sweep, particularly against the one team that inexplicibly owned the Cardinals last year. First place is yours to lose, guys. It's great to have baseball back.

I've always hated most sports and loved baseball (as far as following goes--I love to try, unsucessfully, to do stuff with my body--if anyone reading this wants to try to get some people together to play cricket, I'd TOTALLY be up for it). I could never really explain why, but I think I've figured it out, and it realates how annoyed I was, and am, at a lot of the steroids superstars of the current age (even Cardinals--the second McGwire hit his 70th HR, I was screaming that the Cards should trade him away for some ace pitcher while his value was sky-high. Alas, noone could hear me).

The thing is, most sports are a SHOW. I'ts about coming to the field and performing, and showing off and having those around you gawk. Football, especially, fits this mold--focus on the marquee players, and build up a ton of excitement on a couplea key matchups that won't happen again. It makes for drama, but seems pretty artificial.

Baseball, by contrast (and to plagarize a bit from someone I used to hang out with), is your lazy buddy that sits next to you on the roof of your house downing Dr. Peppers. It's a part of life in a way that these other sports can't be--each outcome isn't as exciting and soul-wrenching, but, at the same time, familiarity gives you a much deeper connexion with 'your guys.' The stars are fun, but the non-stars are, in a bizarre way, even more exciting--they're the scrappy little guys that couldn't quite make it, out there proving that they DID deserve a shot.

Also, the sport is egalitarian and built upon a bunch of little things coming together--the best guys out there succeed a third of the time, and the worst guys succeed a fifth of the time. The margin of error in the game is so tiny, and it regularly leaves guys going from boom to bust in the blink of an eye (remember when Frank Thomas was a sure first ballot HOF lock?). The fleeting nature of the players' talent, and the odd coincidences of success are what makes the game great, and why it is so special to see teams build a record and to see players build a career. And why the wild card sucks so much--it tampers with this delicate balance.

Anwyay, I've rambled too much. The summary is, the games are on, the Cards are winning, and my buddy is back, a thousand miles away or no.

UPDATE: Oh, and what the scratcher said. Crush the cubbies!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The phoenix rises from the ashes again.

I have to think that this weekend was pretty good for me. Although my car got towed, and I still have some annoying medical bullshit to deal with, I feel much cheerier about the world right now. I am closer to having actual results to post to my advisor than I have been in a long time. I still can't quiiite get the idea that I had for publication to work out, but there's always hope, eh?

I also, thanks to the car towing, ironically, had a chance to talk out some of the nastier personal problems that I've run into as of late, so I feel better about that. My stress level is the lowest it's been in a month, I think.

Additionally, it is goddamn opening day. Once I can afford it, I'm thiking I'm getting muyself a subscription. For now, it's nice just to see Carp's mugshot up at Viva el Birdos. Looking forward to this season, even if it is a nightmare of disasters at 2B for most of the year. Whatever, every team is in first place on opening day!

But, in summary, I think that there might actually be reason to believe that the immediate future will be better than the immediate past.

I will leave you with the following cartoon that I saw over at firedoglake (which those of you interested in politics all should be reading). It made me laugh, maybe it'll make you laugh, too: