July 26, 2013

What do you call people who purposefully harm others?

Important to remember that Norm Ornstein is hardly some left wing radical, but even he has to say that this Republican resistance is not quite treason.  And important to remember that the GOP's stated goal is to keep people from signing up for health insurance.  What do you call people like that?  I think sociopath is about right.

The Unprecedented, Contemptible GOP Quest to Sabotage Obamacare - Norm Ornstein - The Atlantic

July 16, 2013

Topics other than my career: race, politics, etc.

I have been obsessed with my career situation, but, as everyone knows, many other things have occurred outside my little world.  First, was the jury acquittal of George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin.  One of the more interesting cases of late, and one that has all the hallmarks of our current debate over race--and of course, our debate over gun usage.

The best responses, I think, didn't focus on the jury--though there seem to be some issues there as well--but looked at the problems with the law in the case.  Florida law did not require the court to even acknowledge or address the fact that George Zimmerman ignored police instructions and created the conflict.  Black observers were not wrong to note that this case was about a man stalking and killing a young, unarmed black male--and that the state of Florida said that was ok.  Zimmerman didn't have to prove that his life was actually in danger, merely that he felt threatened.

Eugene Robinson had one of the better posts on this, where he noted that while everyone talked about Zimmerman's right to self-protection, for some reason Martin had no such right.  Further, he and many have noted how this case suggests that young black males simply don't count that much.  I am reminded that capital cases are biased terribly on race--not so much the perpetrator--especially dealing with the race of the victim.  Another dead black boy simply doesn't matter that much, and that makes me terribly sad.

Speaking of that, it is time again to reread To Kill A Mockingbird, but first this excellent essay by Ta-nehisi Coates on the Fear of a Black President.


In other news, the state of Texas continues their war on women by pushing through a draconian law banning abortions after 20 weeks, and effectively shutting down most clinics in the state.  I can't help but wonder if the right wing crazies have not overplayed their hand and miss that they are winning battles, but possibly losing the war.  Overnight, they made a national figure of Senator Wendy Davis, who is attractive, smart, and eloquent--only one of which Rick Perry brings to the table.

Then, we read that North Carolina Republicans pushed through a bill that gives lie to any notion that these people respect hard work or the middle class.  This law would cut taxes on the richest, while raising taxes on the bottom 80%.  Add this to the federal farm bill that gave agri-business subsidies while ignoring food stamps all together (also cutting environmental protection, btw).  Even conservative Rod Dreher sees this for what it is--cruel and horrible policies from a party that should know better.
The Republican Party is throwing corporate welfare at farmers, but telling people who are so poor they qualify for government aid to feed themselves that they are not a priority. As a matter of basic politics, the Republicans have lost their minds. This is Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark all over again.  
I remain stunned that my friends and family continue to vote for these sociopaths who do not, beyond minor superficial words, reflect their values.

July 12, 2013

Word of the day: "Reinvention"

Though I have no idea what that looks like.

My career is at a crossroad.  The lack of a full-time position is nothing new, but my access to adjunct gigs is declining, not increasing.  I know that it is time to move to something new.

But first, I have to get this out, and perhaps it will stop the dreams.  I was good at teaching.  I had more than one student tell me I was the best professor they had in 4+ years.  I still have former students who not only keep in touch, but will tag me for coffee or beer when they are in town.  My friend and former ta D told me a few weeks ago that if the academy functioned as it should, I should be teaching, because I am good at it.  Those are kind words and I appreciate them.

But back to the dream.  During grad school, I developed a course on western film.  It started as simply a money-making venture and morphed into a pretty decent class.  I taught it for years and honed and fine-tuned the films and readings.  Students often came expecting an easy course of looking for historical anachronisms, but found, instead that they had to challenge some of their deeply held assumptions about American exceptionalism, race, gender, sexuality and history.  Watching that dawn on some students was a delight.  Some never got it or never cared.  But many found the analysis fascinating and embraced it.

I haven't taught the course for several years.  My university changed how they funded adjunct classes (revenue stream, I am pretty sure) and my department simply could not offer my film class.  I think another tenured prof teaches something similar, but I feel pretty confident that mine was better.  But for the last few years, I have been unable to teach anything but the survey (which may be one reason why this "reinvention" is timely as I have been bored with that same course).

But I often dream of teaching that film course.  In my dreams, the discussions have moved to that great sweet spot where students are arguing over imagery and history, and talking about big ideas and assumptions.  They are laughing as we often did in the class, and eager to talk about Lonestar or The Searchers.

Then I wake up.

And that hurts.  I miss that.

So I must move on to something else.  SOF believes that not only have I been bored, but that my true essence is to be an advocate, and that it was just as well that I didn't end up in a research-heavy job.  Others have told me that my skills are such that I can do a variety of jobs.  But I have no idea what that means.  What kind of jobs?  Doing what?

For now, I am in a fortunate position.  I don't have to do something right now to pay the bills.  I have the luxury of some time to figure this out.  Does it mean re-tooling in school?  Volunteering for a non-profit for a while?  I have taken some steps.  I contacted a former student now in our state legislature (a reminder, if you don't mind, that my teaching wasn't too bad) and hope to meet with him next weekend for some networking ideas.  I am having beers with a poli sci prof to ask about other opportunities and to see what some of their programs in public administration might offer me.

We will see.