Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm Not Merely Baffled. I'm Pissed Fucking Off.

Dear Students in Friday's afternoon class.

You know what, I'm sick of your bullshit. If you fuck up by not reading the assignment, the last thing I want you to say is, "Oh, I didn't read that." I've been biting my tongue, but my patience has worn thin.

When Rachel said it today, I thought I was going to burst a fucking vein. Not only was the instruction to give "five examples," I also wrote it on the whiteboard. So when Rachel hustled through her work and brought up a sheet of paper with one example on it, I thought she was checking to see if she was doing it right.

After I said it looked okay, she clapped her little hands and spun to get her purse and leave.

"Uh, Rachel, it's okay, but you need 4 more."


"The assignment was for 5 examples. You've only got one."

"You want 5?"

"Yes, it's on the handout. It's on the board."

"I didn't read that," Rachel said.

"Yeah, I guessed that. But you can see it's on the handout and on the board, right?"

Suddenly, Scott in the back raised his hand. "I'm just doing one, too."

"Yes, but you need 5. You won't get any credit if you just do one."

Rachel thought of something. "But there's nothing on the handout about you taking points off if we don't do enough. What if my one is really well done?"

"Well, the assignment is worth 10 points, so I guess if your one was great, you might get 2 out of 10."

Scott joined in. "Yeah, it doesn't say that on the handout, the thing about what the penalty would be if we didn't do all 5."

What I wanted to say to you all was, "Are you impaired in some way? Did someone drop you on your head?"

Then Rich, right next to Scott, the brain trust area of class, said, "Really, it doesn't say that on the handout. I don't see where it says 5 examples. No wonder we're confused."

I picked up a handout from someone's desk, looked it and said: "Third line from the top, after the colon. 'Five examples must be given.' Do you have that on your handout?"

Rich held it up to the light and stared. "I can see it now, but that's easy to miss."

"Easy to miss? There are 6 sentences on the whole page."

Then silence.

Students, we're about 4 weeks away from the end. If you act any dumber, you're not going to pass. Play along, do you hear me? Act as if you have brains. Read what I write. Listen to what I say. Act in good faith.

Snowflake Email: Saturday Chrome Edition

Why do I check my email on Saturday? I could be watching Hello, Dolly! with my kids. Instead, I'm on the LMS doing a bit of "light" grading, and like a dummy, I hopped over to check my mail.

From Susie: I was wondering if I could send the [LMS] discussion post to you. I actually wrote it on Tuesday after the initial view of the video, but wanted to wait until I saw the rest of [the documentary]. on Thursday before I sent it to  [LMS] . I accidently forgot to upload it on Friday. The Document I wrote it in says the modified date that I saved it, that way I have proof to back my statement up! I know it's really late and may not be counted for points, but I'm going to attatch the file anyways. Just so you know I'm not blowing it off. SORRY! :)
Thanks, Susie

From Sally: hello, I couldn't make it to class yesterday because i got really sick and had to go get look at all night and all this morning and I just got home and I couldn't make the deadline for the [LMS] post is there any way I can make that up? I didn't do it earlier in the week because I planned on finishing it yesterday and in class so I had more to write about.
Just let me know
thanks, Sally

It's 11:30 am in my neck of the woods, and I'm wondering if that's not too early to start drinking.

No Word on Archie...

Other "clubhouse" members long lost? Here's a list of some folks I can't recall seeing, some for ages...

We've got space for you!
Black Dog
Chloe Comm Prof
Dana from Decatur
Gauss from Grinnell
Hellish Harpy
Irritated Isis
Jonathan Dresner
Lex from Lakeland
Midwest May
New England Natalie
Penny from Prince George
Samantha Folkchurch
Schmitty RKD
Texpat 76
The Myth
Zeke Zymurgy

A Letter to the Editor - Wash Post.

I am concluding my first year of retirement after teaching geography at Prince George’s Community College for 42 years. My weekly workload consisted of 15 teaching hours and five required office hours. I taught five classes and a two-hour lab. At the time of my retirement, at the age of 73, I was earning a little more than $90,000. Add to this $26,000 that I have been receiving annually from Social Security since turning 65. Not bad for working a 20-hour week for what amounted to a little more than eight months’ work a year.

All of my classes were capped at 25 students, and they always were filled. I was considered to be an effective teacher, and most of my students succeeded, some beyond expectations.

Over the years I succeeded in publishing more than a dozen articles in a variety of professional journals and was a journal editor. This might be considered minimal if I were employed at a four-year college or university, but I was told by several administrators that it was exceptional for a community college professor. I have been recognized as a distinguished teacher as well as a distinguished scholar by two academic associations within my discipline. One college administrator, on more than one occasion, told me that I “was one of the good ones.”

So why do I agree with David C. Levy’s opinion that some professors, unless they are employed in research institutions, and especially those teaching at community colleges, aren’t working enough and are overpaid? With my reputation established, in the last few years of my tenure (with the exception of Wednesday afternoons when I conducted my two-hour lab), I was home by 1 p.m. And I wasn’t alone. A number of other faculty members did not work an eight-hour day. Upon departing from my office, I must admit, I had a sense of guilt when passing custodians at work as I exited toward the faculty parking lot.

I retired in the middle of the 2010-11 academic year. My replacement was an individual in dire need of employment. His adjunct salary was far less than mine. The college was not sorry to see me go. In retrospect, I can’t say that I blame it.

- Sherman E. Silverman, Silver Spring

Friday, March 30, 2012

From InsideHigherEd.

Calling all Academics: April 2 as the Day for Higher Ed
March 27, 2012 - 9:11pm
We’ve all read it and clearly we all have an opinion on it. And as much as we wring our hands and see the writing on the wall (they came for the k-12 teachers, and we said/did nothing [and in fact in many cases added our voices to those who would seek to undermine them], and now they are coming for us), we collectively do very little to change the perception that the general has about people teaching in higher education.
And I say teaching because so many of us who are teaching aren’t officially professors. Most of us are not salaried professionals, but hourly workers, being paid for only the hours taught. Because of that, the “other” work that needs to get done in higher education is falling increasingly on the shoulders on those who are “fortunate” enough to be on the tenure track. Yes, we are salaried professionals who get paid an “annual” (but in most cases, nine-month) salary to do a job that increasingly never ends: serve students, do research, reform curriculum, advise graduate students, supervise student groups, sit on committees…the list keeps growing and growing while salaries remain stagnant and 24 hours still remains as the length of any given day.
But you know all of that, you’re here, you’re reading my blog, perhaps regularly, perhaps not. We know what we do. We know what the majority of us are doing, anonymously, thanklessly, and increasingly for lower and lower pay. The arguments and observations I’m making here are not new; I’ve made them here and elsewhere, and so have others, more eloquently than I. So why are we still having this discussion?
We need a Day of HigherEd (hashtag #dayofhighered). While many of us have written posts broadly outlining what we do in a day (and how disgusted we all are by the at best misleading and at worst dishonest portrayal of our work), few of us have ever taken the time to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators.

Nappy by Dr. ChrryBlstr.

Hello Dr. ChrryBlstr;

I completed my finally essay before the deadline but decided to wait until I got home after class to submit my assignment because my wifi connection on my laptop is not reliable. When I got home I took a nap which ended up taking longer than expected but that also meant I missed the 11:59PM deadline. I have submitted my essay but I would like to inform you that I had no intention of handing in my assignment late and was hoping you would be able to disregard the late submission. Attached I have included a screen shot image to show you that the last changes I had made which proves that the essay was complete well in advance from the deadline. I do apologize for any inconveniences this may cause but I would really appreciate it if you could understand.

Justa Snowflake


Dear Colleagues,

I'm sorry that I can't come to work today, because I had a nap and overslept...could you cover for me so that there are no consequences?


Thursday, March 29, 2012

From NY Times.

From South Sudan to Yale
by Nichola D. Kristof

Paul Lorem epitomizes a blunt truth about the world: talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

Lorem, 21, is an orphan from a South Sudanese village with no electricity. His parents never went to school, and he grew up without adult supervision in a refugee camp. Now he’s a freshman at Yale University.

All around the world, remarkable young men and women are on edge because today they finally hear of admissions decisions from Yale and a number of other highly competitive universities. So a word of encouragement: No one ever faced longer odds than Paul Lorem, and he made it.

“How I got to Yale was pure luck, combined with lots of people helping me,” Lorem told me as we sat in a book-lined study on the Yale campus. “I had a lot of friends who maybe had almost the same ability as me, but, due to reasons I don’t really understand, they just couldn’t make it through. If there’s one thing I wish, it’s that they had more opportunity to get education.”

Lorem’s family comes from a line of cattle-herders in the southeastern part of South Sudan. The area is remote. Villagers live in thatch-roof huts, and there is no functioning school or health clinic. The nearest paved road is several days’ walk away.

Snowflake e-mail to the Court of Appeals

Dr. Jekyll and Prof. Hyde,

I am a student in a different section of Intro to Hamsters than the one you teach.  I understand that you had the same assignment as our section.  Grades are very important to me, and I received bad grade on my assignment.  I worked very hard on it, and feel I do not deserve the grade I got.  The grades are not being curved either.  I would very much appreciate another opinion on the assignment because it makes up a substantial amount of the grade in the class. If you could please look over the attached assignment and let me know what you think that would be great.  

Thank you for your time,
Suzee Snowflake

Dear Suzee:

Giving you a second opinion regarding your grade on this assignment would be unprofessional.  I am confident the other instructors are capable of fairly evaluating their students' assignments.

Dr. Jekyll

Dearest Suzee:

I love nothing more than to undermine my fellow instructors.  Thank you for this opportunity.  Upon reviewing your assignment, I believe your instructor was too easy on you.  I will dutifully inform them that your grade on this assignment should be twenty points lower.  I will also inform the department chair of my colleague's incompetence so that you do not have bother with this.  I look forward to having you in my upper division class next year.

Prof. Hyde

Fantasy Moment

Hey Misery!

If you were to win the current jackpot of $500 million, what would you do for your Department? How would you spend it to improve your situation?

(Yes I know, we'd all quit our jobs and buy an island somewhere. But I want to know, if you had basically unlimited funds at your disposal, what would you do to improve your institution?)


Edited to Add: "Currently, in New York City alone, tickets are currently selling at the rate of 2 million PER HOUR" (emphasis mine)

quick question

Can anyone find me the article someone posted a link to a month or so back, from some moron claiming that because articles in English literature aren't cited as often as (say) articles in Engineering therefore all research in English literature was pointless because nobody was reading it, and literature profs should be forced to stop researching and just teach twice as much?  I have an urgent need for this article.  It may have been in the Crampicle, but I don't think so.

Durwood in Denton With Another Way Our Universities Intelligently Use Money.

The UNT Art Galleries and the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA) have partnerned to host visual artist Nick Cave as the 2011-2012 Artist in Residence, commissioning Cave to create a new work of public art at the University of North Texas. Internationally recognized for his Soundsuits and for working with communities to choreograph public performances, Cave is creating a new performance piece to take place on campus in March. The piece, titled Heard, involves 30 horses running through the grounds, being corralled by 50-100 percussionists, and breaking apart into 60 hybrid beings that move in increased improvisation. The creation of the horse suits, choregraphy, musical score and performance are the result of Nick Cave's collaboration with UNT students, faculty, and staff and the surrounding community.

ROM Updated.

The Rules of Misery have been updated.

Over the past 24 hours the consensus in online comments and emails directly to CM has been for a lighter hand in deleting comments that some readers find inappropriate, harassing, or threatening. Some material that appears on the blog may be offensive to some readers.

CM asks that everyone remember that this is a shared space. We also suggest that it's impossible anyone will moderate this page in exactly the way you would, so have patience with the moderator as well.

Play nice, and please to enjoy, in the manner.

A Big Thirsty on Advising from Sawyer.

I recently returned from a Student Services conference where I noticed a trend and I'm not sure what to make of it. In recent years, it seems like there has been a movement toward "Professional Advisers." Flyover State U even offers a Master's Degree in Advising. Not Counseling, mind you - Advising. 

These are non-faculty positions that are responsible for all academic advising within a major or college. One nearby university in particular created eight new positions for this role last year. This trend is not "new" at community colleges that I'm familiar with. Faculty at those community colleges abdicated advising a number of years ago and I can trace that sector's movement to a particular event. My conundrum is this: At my current institution, there is a push for increased academic advising by faculty, which seems counter to my recent observations.

Q: Is my observed sample size (state/regional) too small to make the assumption that my school is moving "backward"? How is academic advising handled on your campus? Are professional advisers the "new norm?" Taking it to another level, what was your academic advising experience like? In a nutshell, mine was, "Here's a degree plan. Check off the courses. When you're done, apply for graduation." Apparently that's too complicated nowadays.

- Sawyer in Student Services

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Didn't You Know? Proffies Are Supposed To Have Infinite Memory!

"I don't like the grade you gave me on my paper!"

"What was it?"


"Well, that's not such a terrible grade. When I was in school, 'C' was an average grade. That's what most students got."

"But I know I didn't write an average paper."

"I'm not saying you did. But did you read my comments."

"Yeah, and I did what you told me. And I still got a B+"

"Do you have the paper with you?"


"Well, I need to see it in order to tell you more."

"But, tell me, what do I have to do to make it an 'A'."

"You have to show it to me first."

"How can you not remember?"

"I'm sorry. I only read 152 papers this week. I guess my memory must be going. I'm no spring chicken, you know."

"Just tell me what I need to do to get an 'A.'"

Modesto Marcus with Some Job Misery.

I've been struggling along in the job market this year, and I'm an English proffie with 3 years experience running a small writing program at a 4 year school in California. We are in a terrible financial situation, however, and I have been stopped from doing much to improve things.

So, I'm always interested to see job ads in my (general) geographic and disciplinary area.

Today, this UC-San Diego ad caught my eye. It's for a lecturer position running the writing program. The part below caught my eye because for a first round, it strikes me as an amazing amount of work.

Applicants should submit: (1) Letter of application; (2) CV; (3) Names and addresses of three referees; (4) Syllabi of courses the applicant has designed and taught; (5) Proposed syllabus or curriculum plan for a freshman-level writing sequence that addresses the Warren College Writing Program's goals (see web site) as well as the needs of a diverse group of students, instructors, and staff; (6) Article length writing sample (7) Summary of past or potential contributions to diversity in a personal statement.

Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 are all reasonable. 6 and 7 are best suited to a next step. 5 is ridiculous. You want me to propose a curriculum plan for your program? In the first step of a job application?

Now, I'm not saying I won't apply, but if I weren't quite so desperate I wouldn't.

Am I alone in thinking they're asking for too much, too soon?

- Modesto Marcus

Fab & Me.

What I wouldn't give,
what I'd pay to see,
if Fab were everyone else here,
and I was only me.

Fab blurs all the photos,
Fab writes all the text,
and I and I alone
the results I do inspect.

Oh, what a "wow!"
Oh, what a "whee!"
If Fab were everyone else here,
if it were only Fab and me.

What Will Sunday Bring?

RYS and CM both have a little April Fool's Day history. My two favorites come from CM.


The Miami U (Ohio) 4 Unveiled.

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone.

As long suspected, this whole blog is written by and for the 4 of us, 4 Miami University of Ohio proffies. We just have a blast cracking each other up. We got an email once from someone who said they read the page, too, but we figured it was just span.

Anyway, we thought we'd introduce ourselves in case anyone else was reading along.

Leslie Outen (Philosophy)
I do the formatting. I try to make the fonts hard to read, and the colors a pain.

Ben Malfi (Poli Sci)
I spend most of my day making up comments and then posting them under a bunch of names. Strelnikov is my favorite sub-identity.

Reg (W.) Wilhelm (English)
Like most English proffies, I have loads of time, so I scour the internet for stupid Shizzles and marginally-related news articles that I cut and paste into the blog.

Fr. James Jessam (Religion)
I'm Yaro.

I Never Did Get an Invitation to that Party with the Haitians

I know that Cher Horowitz was not the best student, but I always found her charming, and I was able to attribute her endearing form of flakiness to the silliness of adolescence. Besides, she seemed nice enough--working to establish that Pismo Beach disaster fund and all.

But now, Cher is an adult--an adult who has given birth to a child named Bear Blu. She has also taken to chronicling her care of that child, posting the following video of her and Bear's quirky dinner routine:

I don't know about all of you, but I know it is quite unlikely that I will ever teach Baby Bear, or Teenage Bear, or Young Adult Bear. But I know that someone, somewhere will. And I feel very, very, very bad for that person.

Here's a link to the full article for a little, um, flava.

I'm Baffled At the Committee Fog.

One of my committees meets once a month, whether we need to or not. For reasons unknown or unremembered, we meet at 8 am on certain Tuesdays in a crow's nest kind of room high atop campus. There are decent views, but it's nondescript otherwise.

Now, I'm on three committees right now, active ones, and there are 2 others I'm a part of that don't meet often. All of these other committees have a sort of personality or character. Most are business like. Most move along quickly. None of us wants to be there, but all recognize the utility of what we're doing.

But the foggy committee, the 8 am committee, it's almost as if we gather as if we were part of an experiment or a reality show. Nobody can remember why we're there, or who's in charge. What were we supposed to do? Is there a Dean waiting for a report?

I know we have muffins and coffee when we meet. This is because Committee Carla brings them. She's a great institution here at our college, a funny and wonderful woman who also cares for us as if we were her kids. That may sound odd to outsiders, but Committee Carla is all right with me.

We settle in chairs. Committee Kirk reminds us - or tries to - what we talked about last time. It's always foggy and at least one person says, "I must have missed that one."

I try - usually - to ask, "What is it we're working on right now?"

But that usually draws mild daggers from Committee Keith, who one time said, "Listen, it's a committee, it's not supposed to have a purpose."

It's not unpleasant. After our treats we talk a bit. Someone remembers something. We set a couple of tiny duties. We adjourn.

When I leave that building, my eyes get a little brighter. I breathe a little more freely. Could I stop going? Would they miss me? Is it bad if I can't even recall the NAME of the committee? What about the muffins? Would I miss the muffins?

Real Goddamned Mail: The Censorship Edition.

Listen, I've just had three bottles of Orange Crush. Do you feel me? In glass bottles. My supermarket sells them that way and they are, like, the greatest tasting soda pops I've ever had. When I drink them I get a little high, a little more truthful. There is an ingredient in them that brings me a level of clarity, and I have chased them down because I need to open up this window to the loyal readers of CM.

Oh, I didn't introduce myself. I'm the RGM. That's Real Goddamned Moderator, no matter how many clever-tons try to reverse engineer it to Real Goon Moderator in their hysterical emails. (No, stop, my ribs are tickling.)

I've collected some recent email that I'll now share with you, in the manner:


  • I wanted to write to tell you how much I appreciate you keeping one eye on the page and one finger on Delete. Xxxxxxxx is a pain in the ass. I direct you to these comment threads: Xxxxxxxxxxx, Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, and Xxxxxxxxxxxx. It's not just me sick of him; a bunch of folks can tell he's just another version of a troll trying to get a rise. I hate to admit I took the bait a couple of times, and it pissed me off half the day. Thanks for saving me the trouble. This page has got a level of discourse that's better than any place else I visit, and the people on here have been saviors to my sanity endlessly. When assholes try to ruin it, like Xxxxxxxx before he went away, it does a real disservice to what can be accomplished here. I'm sure you take shit for it, but thanks for keeping the sandbox safe.
  • Who died and made you constable? 
  • Where in the rules does it say we can't be assholes? That's what you mean, right? Except you let your "favorites" do whatever they want. The rest of us get cut off like kiddies shuffled to the little table at Thanksgiving. Fuck that. You can't delete everything because then you wouldn't have enough HITS to get your boner all hard and earn that big Google money. You know who you should delete is that fucking Xxxxxxx. She's out of her mind.
  • I take exception to your heavy hand with moderation. I didn't sign up for that.
  • I have been reading your page for several weeks now, and I see a real problem. What you should be doing is encouraging debate, not shutting it down. I see lately you've censored a number of comments by Xxxxxxxxx. I don't know him personally, but he is active on a couple of other boards that I read. He's funny. Maybe that's what your problem is. He's actually funny, and he's got a razor sharp view. He's tweaking you stuck up academics and that's maybe too much for you. Now, don't get me wrong, I value college and education, but professors? You're supporting the wrong group. I'm not ergo a professor, but I give several lectures each year at Xxxxxxx University. I'm the guy they call in when the professor is too tired from reading from the textbook. I have real world experience. I actually make enough money not to have to worry about attendance or Wikipedia. And my lectures are well attended and the class really gets into it. I talk the people's language. You can watch Professor Dunderhead over at the side thinking, "This guy is stealing my class," and he's right. For that hour or two I speak to the students about the real world, and they love me for it. You can't believe how many students stay afterwards, just to get my business card or to tell me how great my presentation was. I might hire some of these kids some day if Professor Dunderhead doesn't bash out their fire. But back to my concerns about how you moderate the page. I think you're shooting yourself in the foot by stopping anyone who has some real backtalk to your normal staid and boring whining. Like I said, you seem to only censor Xxxxxxxxx because he's funny, and he tweaks you guys. Lighten up a bit. Look at how he needles you. You need that. You need to listen to him and get with it. You'll be happier when you do. I probably won't stick around much longer the way you run things, but I thought you should know what would help you make this a better board.

All right, I've switched from Orange Crush to Fisherman's Wharf. Its effect is different. It's slowing me down, bringing on the self-loathing. I make Nixon look like a piker. Self doubt is swamping me. I'm unsure. Do I dare eat a peach?

But, the notes above are some that have come in recently about my heavy handed moderation. Please, if you'd like, bat some ideas around below. Or if that doesn't interest you, you may look at this duck:


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sometimes they are better than I am.

Sometimes positive stories are not for college misery.

For those who question the process I used to alter names and details, keep in mind that I do the exact same thing for flakey smackdown posts, yet no one ever complains then.


She began the term with a bang, writing twice as much as I required in our online forums and answering about half her classmates' contributions with insightful replies. I gave her full credit and loved how she pushed our class discussion forward.

Then she began submitting response papers, each one a beautiful synthesis of my lectures, the reading, and our lab work. For a soldier, her contributions were impressive. I scoured each one for plagiarism, but they all came out clean. She just liked my course and loved online learning.

One time she had another obligation and wouldn't make a deadline. Did she flake out and try to make excuses? She emailed me ahead of time, and only asked for a two hour extension. Which meant that I would have her work when I went to grade all of her classmates' work, so no extra effort needed on my part. What a student. I gave her the extension.

Then today I received this email, slightly altered to protect her identity:

Ms Monkey,

I hope you are doing well today. I wanted to email you so I could apologize for having not come to class all week long. I've missed the work, but duty calls and I was on a mission. I'm afraid it was not very successful.

While on the mission, we were ambushed. Our convoy was blown up. I came to a few days later, just this morning, and found out that I am the only survivor of the incident out of a mission of twelve. I know that I am lucky to be alive. I am about to be loaded on a plane to the US so I may have surgery on my legs. I'm trying to focus on the fact that I lived while my friends -- good people, strong people -- have died.

I am looking at physical therapy to recover from my injuries. Once I am out of surgery and able to stay awake through the pain meds, I hope to use my college experience as a motivator to get me through the next few months. Is it possible for me to stay in your course and get a small extension? I have enjoyed your class so much and I believe college would be an ideal distraction from laying in a hospital all day. If you are unable to give me an extension, I completely understand and I will of course accept any points taken off for my lateness. I'm sorry I was unable to email you before Sunday's deadline.

Please keep in touch and I will email you after surgery. Thank you for your support and academic advice.

Student Soldier

We talk a lot about misery here, and there is indeed enough misery to share. But sometimes I come across students who are better than I am. Stronger than I am. More aware and polite than I would be in the same situation. She gives me chills. Godspeed.

From Gawker.Com