Notes and clarifications.

It rained all day yesterday — hard, cold and sideways — and now something hard and needle-like is falling on the skylight. Could it be? Yes it could: Freezing rain/hail! And spring is delayed another day or two.

Don’t mind me. I always liked the feel of a nice snug straitjacket.

A few notes/clarifications/follows:

My comments about Susan Boyle got linked here and there, and reading the comments on other blogs, it seems there are some who believe my contempt was aimed at her, not at those surrounding her. Nothing could be further, etc., although I do wonder why anyone, let alone a nice Scottish virgin (say that phrase in a Scottish accent — it’s fun), would willingly climb between the sheets with Simon Cowell — talk about your deals with the devil. But obviously there aren’t many producers willing to take a chance on a woman like Boyle, and if she wanted to be heard outside her Scottish village, this was probably the only way it was going to happen.

No, my problem is with the people who treat her like some sort of sideshow, and in so doing reveal their not-particularly-hidden contempt for anyone who dares break the mold of what’s considered acceptable in our culture.

One more note: Not long ago I heard something on public radio about John Philip Sousa’s reaction to Mr. Edison’s infernal invention, the phonograph. He saw in an instant what it would lead to — the loss of music as an amateur pursuit, that’s what:

…when music can be heard in the homes without the labor of study and close application, and without the slow process of acquiring a technic, it will be simply a question of time when the amateur disappears entirely…

In Sousa’s time, music belonged to anyone who had the minimal discipline to learn it. Everyone — or, at least, far more people — could pick out a tune on the piano, favor the group with a song, play the fiddle at a Saturday-night dance. When entertainment was scarce, everyone entertained. You lent your talent, whatever it might amount to, to your church choir, your community band, your local musical society. When the music business amounted to the sale of sheet music, it was a far more democratic institution. Music was like the local plant life — unique in a particular place, shaped by circumstances and geography.

Boyle is, I think, far more rooted in this older world than ours. While she’s obviously influenced by the musical theater and other modern institutions, she seems to have one foot firmly planted in a time when being able to carry a tune meant you were somewhere on the scale from normal-to-gifted, not a superstar waiting to be discovered.

Of course her new Svengali will help her make a record. Here’s hoping it enables her to spend her remaining years wherever she wants, in Scotland or on a beach somewhere, singing like a canary just for the joy of it.

Also, I saw most, but not all, of HBO’s “Grey Gardens” the other night, and I have to say, I was impressed. I thought combining the Edies’ backstories with their degradation brought a note of empathy to the whole sad and squalid affair, and the acting, particularly Jessica Lange’s, was outstanding. Just the right combination of needy and calculating, mama spider sitting in her web waiting for the right moment to wrap her daughter up in it for good.

Needless to say, the wardrobe was fabulous. Why don’t we wear cloche hats anymore? They looked good on everyone.

Congratulations to the Detroit Free Press for their well-deserved Pulitzer Prize. Unrelated: The other day I read about a prostitution ring in the metro area that relied on Craigslist, and the Free Press article said:

Sheriff Warren Evans charged Wednesday that Craigslist is major source of prostitution. He said the evidence will be sent to Chicago to bolster a federal civil case filed March 5 against the giant Internet firm by the Cook County sheriff.

“Giant internet firm.” I ask you. It is the truck that ran over our industry, and we don’t even know what color it is.

For what Wikipedia’s worth, the giant internet firm operates out of a nondescript house in San Francisco and has 28 employees.

And now I am off to mail the letter that will seal my summer in a nice package: I’m teaching a class this spring/summer term. At the university level, which I’m sure will give all you tuition-paying moms and dads pause. In internet journalism, at Wayne State. I’m as stunned as you are, but for now, I have to get my letter of offer back to them before the deadline. So I’m off, eh?

Posted at 9:16 am in Media, Popculch |

46 responses to “Notes and clarifications.”

  1. IrishBill said on April 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Hahaha..I found this here (

    Five terrible fake Mitch Albom books

    1. Mondays with Whiskey
    2. The Five People You Meet in Line at Arby’s
    3. Saturday with Morrie’s Roommate…It’s…Like…Oh…You Know…Like… “Sal,” or “Sid,” or Something Kind of Jew-y
    4. Wednesdays When That One Nurse with the Rack Washes Morrie Real Slow Like
    5. Something Something Inspiration Old Person Just Call It Whatever But Just Definitely Change This Shit, Okay? –ma

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  2. Colleen said on April 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I felt the same about GG. Including the backstory made it more human and poignant. And I thought both actresses were fab.

    I thought the scene with the visit from Jackie O was interesting….and showed what happens in so many of our families when we refuse to discuss REAL issues. Ignoring doesn’t make it better.

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  3. beb said on April 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Supposedly 2.5% of all internet traffic is now from craigslist, which is kind of remarkable. Craig used to live in the Detroit area, before he moved to california and long before he had the idea of setting up an internet wants ads site. He was a pleasant, nerdy guy. Its hard to imagine he founded something that rivals google, which craigslist surely does in size and indispenibility. Amd because it’s on the internet it’s being blames for every sin the police want to squash. Never mind that the Metro Times is heavily subsidized by its selling ads for “escort” or “massage” services. Or that if craigslist and the Metro Times were shut down for vice there would be some other memdium exploited for this purpose (bathroom walls?).

    And speaking of trucks that ran over her industry, this ties back to her post last week about venture capital being funneled into companies that are trying to aggregate news on a local/personal level with an minimum of personnel involved. Delivering news on an individual, personal level is easy as long as the product and target are properly tagged. The hard part is and well remain “creating” the news — the stuff that reporters do.

    Congrates, by the way, on the teaching gig.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on April 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

    No snarky comments from me on Susan Boyle since we have an aspiring artist in our family, and he’s just beginning to learn how hard live music is. Friday’s concert was mostly sacred music but had a few “fun” songs too; here’s Duke of Earl:

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  5. ROgirl said on April 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This point may have been made by some other commentator at one time or another, but if a 17 year old Barbra Streisand had gotten on the stage to sing in front of Simon Cowell, the reactions might have been remarkably similar.

    Another murder-suicide. Mother, father and 2 children found in a Maryland hotel room. What is it with all these fathers who take out the whole family when they commit suicide?

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  6. coozledad said on April 21, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Congratulations, Nancy: maybe it’ll turn into a full time thing. Then you can write up one of those horrible faculty dinners.

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  7. jcburns said on April 21, 2009 at 11:18 am

    You’ve already taught me more about journalism than Brian Friedman has forgotten…or something like that. Also: Arrr! Look! Furry new Detroit Lions branding!

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  8. nancy said on April 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

    JC, I always liked this one.

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  9. Sue said on April 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Congratulations on the teaching job! How exciting for you. I would like to hear your views on Today’s Youth, since my kid is seeing it from the other side, and right now, based on what I’ve heard from her, this tuition-paying mom is not too keen on college professors. One suggestion: it’s probably not good form to reply to an email requesting help or clarification on something you have short-deadline-assigned by reminding a student that by contract you are only required to provide a certain amount of contact time. To use one of those new-fangled phrases: WTF.

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  10. adrianne said on April 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Here on the East Coast we’re all about “the Craig’s List killer,” a Boston University med student who apparently made a date with a massage therapist through Craig’s List and then shot her death at a Copley Square hotel in Boston. And he’s suspected of the same kind of thing in Providence, R.I., although the masseuse wasn’t killed. So take that, Mr. Craig!

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  11. moe99 said on April 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Well, we on the west coast had Ted Bundy around for quite a while and he found the coeds he killed the old fashioned way–he talked them up at libraries and such. No one ever thought of holding the libraries responsible. Guess the lawyers weren’t too creative back then.

    Speaking of creative lawyers, I really appreciated the following snark on TPM:

    If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now.

    I’ve been having fast and furious discussions with attorneys who think that Nuremburg is not of precedential value here and that basically, everyone in the chain of command has a good defense to prosecution. It does not make me very proud of my profession.

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  12. Dexter said on April 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Congratulations Professor nnall.

    I’m stickin’ with my charge that Barrymore out-did Lange. She showed us a talent that was so removed from , say, her role in “Fever Pitch” that it should catapult her to the Emmy.

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  13. MichaelG said on April 21, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Congrats on the teaching offer. I hope it grows into a bigger thing. You’re gonna do a great job.

    Love the Lions thing. When you’re in the dumper, hire a consultant to change your logo, upgrade your corporate image.

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  14. jcburns said on April 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Oh, one piece of teaching advice: limit student papers to 140 characters. Will really speed up grading, and prepare them for the new crucible of reporting.

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  15. Rana said on April 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Sue – I have sympathies for your daughter, but I feel I must give a bit of perspective on the other side – her “professor” (unless they are an unusually arrogant snob) is probably an adjunct instructor with more work than pay or benefits. Right now, I’m making $430 a month with no benefits at an institution where the students are ill-prepared; I’m breaking myself trying to handle all the problems involved in just one class. If I were teaching four of these, or even five, as is sometimes common for adjuncts (though those ones usually get a bit more pay and benefits), you can bet I’d be reluctant to give up any more of my unpaid time to the course than I absolutely had to (typically, the time in the classroom is actually the smallest part of the time required to teach the course).

    That said, coming right out and saying that way is rather tactless.

    If you want to yell at someone, yell at the administration for not hiring full-time people – it’s a known problem, especially in the humanities, where qualified job-seekers outnumber the jobs. There’s been a real and worrying trend towards administrations filling the gaps on the cheap with poorly paid adjunct employees who have little reason to develop loyalty to the institutions in question.

    Google “Invisible Adjunct” if you feel like entering that conversation – but be warned, there’s a lot of it. (Academics are a wordy lot, what can I say.)

    On the other hand, if this person is a tenured or tenure-line professor with a 3-3 load or less, that’s just wrong.

    Nancy – cool! One piece of advice – know your limits with regards to time and make sure you explain them clearly to the students. Otherwise you’ll end up with people emailing you at 3am about the assignment due at 9am and complaining about your failure to respond, or – if you’re foolhardy enough to give out your phone number (I recommend against it) calling you at 3am.

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  16. Rana said on April 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Argh. Software isn’t letting me edit my comment.

    So… addendum.

    3-3 means 3 courses per term, which is typical at most institutions. 2-2 for tenure-line professors indicates a research obligation as well; class load is reduced accordingly. 4-4 and 5-5 are unusually heavy teaching loads, and mostly only seen at teaching-focused institutions and community colleges. A rough – ROUGH – rule of thumb is that each class requires 10 hours minimum per week, more if it’s a new class or a difficult one, and that doesn’t necessarily include in-class time. That’s also not taking into account moments in the semester when the workload spikes, as when papers come in. It also doesn’t account for faculty’s non-teaching obligations, such as meetings, administrative duties, etc.

    Tenure-line professors are like salaried employees; they’re not paid by the course but by the year, and so there’s a greater expectation that they will be available outside of posted class times and official office hours. Adjunct professors, on the other hand, are like hourly employees, but ones without overtime and often without benefits. It’s therefore not surprising that they’d be more stingy with their unpaid time.

    Unfortunately for students, it’s hard to tell the difference in the classroom, and most institutions like it that way. Looking at the department website can sometimes help in distinguishing between the two.

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  17. Gasman said on April 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    As for Ms. Boyle, she has a decent voice, but in the realm of trained singers she is nothing remarkable. What it really exposes is how low the bar is set for vocal performance standards of our pop singers. We expect our pop stars to look good. If they can’t sing, we simply “fix it in the mix” as we engineers like to say or we hire studio musicians who can actually perform. If these beautiful but talentless clods need to perform live, we simply have them lip-synch “their” material to prerecorded tracks. Popular music is not about talent or musical skill, it is about marketing a look or brand.

    In the nearly three decades that I have spent in university music departments as a student, then faculty member, Ms. Boyle’s voice would have been considered exceedingly unremarkable. I am not criticizing her singing – I wish everyone would foster a love of singing that would rival hers. She is simply not the vocal phenom that she is being packaged as. The most mediocre vocal students that I’ve heard in the smallest music programs display more technique than she does. What makes her remarkable is that she simply does not conform to our society’s expectations for what would be pop starlets should look like.

    As a classically trained professional musician, I’ve got to tell you that I am extraordinarily underwhelmed by about 99.9% of popular musicians. There is damn little evidence of excellence in the field. What little exists tends to be heavily concentrated in the studio musicians and the producers that prop up the phony faces that we regard as übertalents. Pop music is smoke and mirrors designed to move a product, nothing more. The most famous of stars are not by necessity the best musicians, or often even really musicians at all.

    Professional musicians value punctuality, hard work, and dependability as being far more important in their colleagues than “talent.” Sound familiar? Being a talented but tardy, lazy, and undependable professional musician will mean that you don’t get many gigs, and certainly no repeat ones.

    As for “talent,” that term is highly overrated. Talent is a natural ability or skill, an innate capacity for musical performance, not measure of technical mastery. Some of the most talented musicians that I’ve ever known amounted to little or nothing as professionals. Conversely, some of the most technically proficient musicians I’ve ever known labor away in the relative obscurity of small college/university music programs. Popular accolades are not the most meaningful or accurate measure of musical skill.

    Case in point: Classical music megastar Joshua Bell, one of the finest violinists playing today could not make a living as a busker in Washington D.C.’s Metro. He makes millions as a soloist playing with the best orchestras in the world, yet made only $32.17 for 40 minutes of playing. In this clip he is playing J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from the Second Violin Partita, a damnably difficult piece (also in the classical guitar’s repertoire) and only two people stop to listen. This was done as an experiment for a Pulitzer Prize winning Gene Weingarten piece, “Pearls Before Breakfast” in WaPo’s Sunday Magazine. NPR interview with Weingarten here.

    Was he less talented or skilled when he performed in the subway? No, it is just that in that context as a meager busker he was easily dismissed as being “untalented.” (Only a single person recognized Bell.) There are far more graduates of Julliard who are unemployed in music than otherwise. There is far more than just talent involved in who makes it to the top, or even makes a living as a musician.

    Does Susan Boyle have an abundance of talent? I don’t know; maybe. She is however, more of a musical craftsperson than the majority of pop talent out there today. To the extent that she makes us reexamine our fascination with pretty but mediocre pop stars, I say, good on her.

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  18. LA Mary said on April 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Gasman, here at the hospital, we are very lucky to have a retired studio pianist who spends a lot of his day sitting at a grand piano in the lobby. He can play anything and play it really well. I like when he’s on a Cole Porter run, but jazz, classical, anything.

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  19. Gasman said on April 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Here’s the direct link to Gene Weingarten’s piece. It also has embedded video of Joshua Bell’s performance at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in D.C.

    Joshua Bell, welcome to the real world that the other 99.9% of us working musicians are all too familiar with.

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  20. jeff borden said on April 21, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Two things have made me scream out loud this week:

    1.) Rick Santorum, the hack ex-Senator, has been receiving almost $1,800 per column for the crap he writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, according to bankruptcy papers. Crap is a polite description, but that is one handsome payday.

    2.) Peggy Noonan, who once admonished those who curse in public that they should be aware “the angels are listening,” says we should forget about the torture issue that defined the Bush presidency because some things in life should remain mysterious. How does one navigate life with no moral compass?

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  21. coozledad said on April 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    jeff borden: And old “Dual Deferments” Dick says he urged the CIA to release examples of torture that “worked”, only he didn’t. The gobshite.*

    *finally got to use that in context.

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  22. Sue said on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Rana: a quick look at the school’s website doesn’t immediately show a staff listing, so I checked out open jobs, which listed “assistant”, “associate”, and “full” professor. Adjunct is maybe a different word for one of the first two, perhaps. You are probably right; it’s a state school and they probably use those tactics. And I was not meaning to imply that the professors do not work, that’s one of the reasons I wanted Nancy’s take. But on the other hand, this kind of stuff strikes me as so unprofessional. If you’re going to give assignments on short deadlines, then not be available, what’s the point? How about a required class that turns out to be a stealth statistics class that includes software none of the students are familiar with and a teacher who cannot make herself understood? Up until this year she’s had a pretty good experience but it’s a perfect storm right now. At least it gives some good mom-daughter bitch time, as she mentions things like this and I’m able to tell her the “real world” comparison. Group projects? Guess what, kid, your workplace will mirror what you’re experiencing now, as you and one other person carry the group and sink or swim on the work you’ve done pretty much by yourself. Sorry, I don’t think group projects work in any setting. Human nature takes over every time.

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  23. Bruce Fields said on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I love that Chaconne! There’s a version for left-hand piano that I’ve tried to play before. With mixed success, but I had great fun trying.

    What I don’t get about the Boyle clip is why people discuss this over-the-top dramatic setup as if it were, well, real.

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  24. jeff borden said on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Dick Cheney is a hellspawn and deserves to suffer untold agonies for all eternity. . .as a starter. That said, he’s a useful hellspawn these days. The Republican Party is in complete meltdown and utterly rudderless, so Five Deferments Dick is becoming the face of the party. Since moderates and independents despise the guy, he helps keep them in the Democratic circle.

    We’re truly blessed that the national face of the GOP is made up of Cheney, Palin, Boehner, Ghouliani, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and the rest of the screaming loonies. It probably gives Mitt Romney a lot of running room, simply because he looks like a picture of sanity compared to the above. Whether Romney can win over the base given his Mormon faith, however, is the real question. Me? I’m hoping for a Palin-Jindal ticket. Man, that would be comedy gold.

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  25. Catherine said on April 21, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Coozledad, nice use of gobshite.

    I have said this before but why doesn’t Cheney take his self-aggrandizing, narcissistic personality and crawl back under whatever rock he oozed out from in the first place? We deserve to be SHUT OF HIM!

    Nancy, congratulations on the teaching gig. Those students are lucky. And Sue, re the group projects: perfect training for real life, if you ask me. They almost all evolve into one of two scenarios: really good team, with work product better than any one person could have done individually; or the one you described, plus blame and recriminations.

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  26. mark said on April 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm


    You’re way over the top with the daily outburst of hatred and hopes for eternal suffering. Let it go.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    JC, i like your idea, but Professor Nall should limit student papers to 140 characters . . . and assign no less than five tweets per day for the duration of the class. (Weekends off at the discretion of the teacher.)

    Linkage to NN.C for bonus credit.

    Teaching calls on a variety of skills; i do a lecture session to all the History 151 classes out at the Newark Earthworks at the start of each quarter, and this am was the fifth and final for the new series . . . and a student went into a seizure, recovered, said he was fine, and promptly had another one. Never been so glad i have size 15 feet (worked nicely as buffer under his head on the asphalt).

    As the NYTimes pointed out yesterday, teaching isn’t exactly a fallback position.

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  28. Rana said on April 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    But on the other hand, this kind of stuff strikes me as so unprofessional.

    I don’t disagree. I’m not excusing, only explaining. Often the professor (who, if they’re masking adjunct hires, would either show up as “assistant” or not be listed at all) in such cases isn’t aware of the level (or lack) of preparation in their students; in my own case, I was appalled to discover that the 300-level advanced course I was teaching had no prerequisites – and I didn’t learn this until two weeks in, after seeing the students flailing at the most basic assignments, and learning that some had never taken any upper level classes before this at all. Or the professor may be inexperienced and not know what is likely to be confusing to students, or what a reasonable time frame is.

    It may also be that, not knowing your daughter well, he or she mistook her for one of those students who expect to be spoonfed everything, including things that they ought to know if they paid attention, instead of a diligent student who was genuinely confused.

    Again, I’m not excusing this person. It’s more that (1) you’re only hearing one side of the story, and (2) it’s in your daughter’s best interests to figure out what’s going on with her professor, because that will make dealing with him/her easier in the future.

    I can’t help with the professor’s confusing explanations, but on the other two points – if your daughter (or her classmates) can raise her questions in class, she’s more likely to get a response. Even saying “I’m confused; could you explain that again” helps. Otherwise it’s really easy to assume that the class gets it and doesn’t need additional explanation.

    Students are often surprisingly reluctant to do this; they’re also frequently resistant to coming to office hours. Both are among the best ways to get answers AND convey the message to the instructor that they are serious students.

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  29. Catherine said on April 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Mark, I find I can ignore the rest, but Cheney really pushes my buttons. He is supposed to go away gracefully and instead he seems intent on protecting his legacy/rewriting history. As the former VP, he gets airtime from legitimate journalists (not just the “screaming loonies”) and a certain amount of respect, if not for him personally then certainly for the office. I mean, after Jimmy Carter lost in a similar landslide, did Walter Mondale spend the next years offering apologia for the Carter administration’s mistakes?

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  30. Sue said on April 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Rana, my daughter is a senior (or at least senior level; this is taking sooooooo long), and is past the “afraid to approach the teacher” stage, although I know what you’re talking about because she was like that up until her junior year. That’s why it’s so surprising that it’s happening this year instead of earlier, and why I suspect she’s just hit a bad patch, teacher-wise. The students in the stealth statistics class are almost in open rebellion, from what I’m hearing, but since it’s a required class for her major, somehow there’s going to have to be a truce.

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  31. Gasman said on April 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    It may have dawned on Cheney that he faces a very real possibility of facing a criminal trial, either in the U.S. or abroad. As thorny as the problem of criminally prosecuting Bush administration officials might be here at home, it would be even more embarrassing to have our allies do so abroad. If Obama wants to be taken seriously by posterity, he needs to have the Justice Department begin thorough investigations of Bush, et al. and prosecute when clear violations of the law occurred.

    With each new memo that emerges from the bowels of the Justice Department, we learn that crimes, even international war crimes did occur. IF President Obama would rise above the conduct of the last administration, he cannot simply ignore these violations of the law. Enforcing the law should not be optional, it should be required.

    One of the main reasons Dick Cheney felt emboldened to ignore the Constitution is because there were no criminal investigation or prosecution of Nixon. Had Nixon been found to be a criminal, even if he did not serve time in prison, I believe that it would have served as a deterrent to Cheney and those like him.

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  32. Rana said on April 21, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Sue, that does sound bad. Have the students tried approaching the instructor to request that one class be spent doing a tutorial in the software? (Obviously, one has to do this delicately.)

    If the person is still not being helpful, despite polite requests, then this would be a situation where talking to his or her chair would be appropriate.

    I TA’d for one guy who just STUNK, back in grad school, so your daughter has my sympathy. In that case, the chair, and the dean, all talked to this guy, but nothing got through. Needless to say, they didn’t hire him again, but that was cold comfort for the students and the TAs stuck cleaning up his mess.

    Usually, though, the chair is be a valuable line of communication and authority. Unless things are obviously bad (the students should bring what documentation they can), they’ll generally side with the faculty member or remain neutral (because unjustly complaining students tend to outnumber ones with valid complaints), but they will also let that person know that there is a problem. Sometimes just hearing that message from the chair will lead to improvements. Again, being polite and reasonable, with evidence to back one’s assertions up, helps immensely. Such students are taken seriously in ways that those who are emotional and/or abusive are not.

    Good luck!

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  33. Rana said on April 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm


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  34. Sue said on April 21, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Rana, I’ve got to go, but thanks for all the input. She’s finding her advisors really helpful on some of the stuff that’s been happening, at least as a sounding-board, anyway. It may be too late in the semester to involve higher-ups, I don’t know. I think the students are communicating with each other, and since it’s a senior-level class, hopefully there’s enough maturity that as a group they’re already doing some of the things you’re suggesting. Thanks again!

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  35. moe99 said on April 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I kinda like the theory put up at TPM today about Cheney–that he had a stroke and a personality change resulted. I have to say when I was at DoD during the Carter administration, he was regarded as an excellent Secretary of Defense and rather bipartisan too. Something seems to have happened to make him a paranoid delusional. It can happen–it happened to my 2d cousin’s husband, Platt. He had a brain tumor though. Disappeared, left his wife and very successful job and they found him in Mexico two or three years later with no idea what he had left behind. Very odd.

    But Cheney is not odd. He is evil.

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  36. beb said on April 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Catherine, my feeling is that Cheney feels he has to keep pushing his definition of torture, national security, etc., because if he allows those ideas to drift, they will reset to the historical norms, and when they do it will be both be obvious that he is a war criminal and that he must be prosecuted. I hope that AG Holder will conclude from Sen. Stevens’ behavior after Holder announced that he would not retry him. Stevens acted as he had been exonerated and was owed an apology. Only prosecution will stop the criminal behavior.

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  37. coozledad said on April 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Atrios has a good take. Cheney was constrained by cultural norms until the Reagan idolatry started. Then his role as a youthful bedshitter during the Nixon administration catapulted him to his sinecure as a DC Pinochet.
    The ultimate takeaway from this could be the entire Bush administration was a kind of payback for what happened to Saint Dick of Phlebitis. It goes a long way to explain the reflexive, stupid responses to every issue they faced, even when public sentiment gave them broad powers. They actually had the sweeping authority to do something right. No one was stopping them. Certainly not defense industry Democrats, who ought to stand in the dock with the whores.
    So they funneled a bunch of cash to their friends while their foreign policy consisted exclusively of jerking off on some comic books.
    Katrina was the only thing that exposed them to the broader public as clueless, money sucking hacks.

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  38. basset said on April 21, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    With a state-university BA and thirty-two years of real-world professional experience, you can get a gig right next to me as a part-time, hourly-rate tutor at my local community college. But don’t get me started.

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  39. Gasman said on April 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Bruce Fields,
    I think Busoni did a two hand piano arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne. I recently heard a recording of it and it reminded me of Segovia’s guitar transcription: it seems at times to be almost a different composition than Bach’s. I recently started working on the guitar version and it will probably take several months of hard work just to be able to play through the whole thing. It’s about 14 minutes long, most of it extremely difficult.

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  40. jcburns said on April 22, 2009 at 12:01 am

    And of course, students who order their school supplies through Nance’s Kickback Lounge get a half-grade bump…uh…wait? What is it you’re saying? There’s this thing called Ethics in Journalism? You’re saying there’s even this class called Ethics in Journalism that I took back in college with…really, you’re kidding, the proprietor of this very blog and Kickback Lounge?

    Oh, well, forget I mentioned anything.

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  41. moe99 said on April 22, 2009 at 12:27 am

    The Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Detainee Abuse is out and makes for some very interesting reading for those of you who suffer from insomnia:

    I just want to know who Captain Donovan is. He’s my new hero (I read from p. 245 of the pdf on forward and he comes out strongly against waterboarding and other ‘offensive’ interrogation measures, going so far as to even complain to the military lawyers. Good for him. Wish there were more in the service.

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  42. jeff borden said on April 22, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I will not apologize for hating an evil man who did great damage to my nation and probably will never pay a price. He is a thug in an expensive suit, who would not look out of place in a black SS uniform and armband.
    There are evil people in this world. Dick Cheney is one of them. He deserves every thing that will inevitably come his way, whether it is the judgement of God or the laws of karma.

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  43. jcburns said on April 22, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I think Jon Stewart asked the pertinent question (paraphrasing) about Cheney: “He’s always been wrong. Why are we still asking him about things?!”

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  44. moe99 said on April 22, 2009 at 10:57 am

    So the harsh interrogations were attempting to prove ex post facto a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda.

    Have you noticed as regards the real conservatives here, that we are mainly hearing crickets?

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  45. Dorothy said on April 22, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Sue – Amen to the “group projects” theory about human nature taking over. I still recall my daughter’s third grade teacher, Mr. Cunningham, telling us at a parent/teacher meeting that the school district made them try these group projects that year, and he noticed that in the group our daughter was a member of, she did all the work. The kids knew she was very smart, so they just let her figure out how to solve the problems. He was almost apologetic with the way he told us.

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  46. Sue said on April 22, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Ok, this may be the last post for this entry before Nancy brings us fresh meat, but it needs to be said:
    Listen up, b*****s. CNN had an in-depth report this morning regarding the impending crisis in internet manners. It seems that the CNN reporter thinks that the Feds may need to get involved, even if controlling content requires an act of Congress. That’s how bad it is, people. Do you know what happened? Do you what was the final straw? Perez Hilton called Miss California a b***h on YouTube.
    This is truly the end of civilization. Nowhere but on the internet will you see this level of nastiness. It must be stopped.

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