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[ 32 ] November 27, 2010 |

All Wikileaks has to do is claim it’s about to release a bunch of documents, and the world jumps.


In Retrospect, the Happiest Person in the World Over Alabama’s Choke Against Auburn

[ 9 ] November 27, 2010 |

Kyle Brotzman.

I also note that any Scott Norwood comparisons would be egregiously unfair…to Norwood.

Sentiment Appreciated

[ 19 ] November 26, 2010 |

Well, this is unfortunate…

Via Chet.

Is there texting in this class?

[ 72 ] November 26, 2010 |

When I read articles like the one Margaret Soltan linked to about texting in class, I can’t help but be thankful that I once took—and took to heart what I learned in—a course on feminist pedagogy. I’m not going to address whether I consider circling up my students a challenge to patriarchal devaluations of “space” and “emptiness” as indicative of the “lack” and “void” of femaleness, because there’s too much psychoanalytic clutter in both the theories of how repression works and how it can be resisted; instead, I’ll focus on the simple fact that a modified circle presents more opportunities to hold students accountable for their classroom behavior. I write “modified” because the visual nature of my material requires regular use of a projection system, meaning my students arrange themselves in a horseshoe and I move between the lectern at the left heel and an adjacent desk.

Point being, there are very few moments when everyone, myself included, can’t see what everyone else in the class is doing. Of course, I teach a small writing class in which such mutual surveillance of the sort is possible, whereas the classes in which texting has become a problem are more likely to be like those of

Laurence Thomas, a popular philosophy professor whose courses have waiting lists, [who] walked out on his class of nearly 400 students last week when he caught a couple of students fiddling with their phones instead of paying attention to him.

It’s impossible to police 400 students, and I admire the fact that Dr. Thomas is not only paying attention, but that he cares enough to walk out of his class. I have a feeling the same can’t be said of those who teach, for example, similarly large “lectures” consisting of canned PowerPoints from textbook companies. The students have no incentive not to text, because the material on the screen is identical to the material in their outrageously expensive textbooks. No synergy happens in that room—the material is not re-purposed by an expert in ways that illuminate confusing passages in the book—it is simply repeated in a bullet format that oversimplifies the material’s complexity. But I’m here to talk about how to discourage students from texting in class, not complain about the cookie-cutter education so many students are receiving.

I’m not sure it works in larger classes, but in my horseshoe of a classroom, all it takes to discourage texting is to ask them to do a little visualization:

Imagine that you are in a room full of people, each and every one of whom can see you. Picture yourself slipping your hands beneath your desk and placing them between your legs. Now, as your hands start to dance and your arms and shoulders gently flex, I want you to look at your face, the way your eyes shift from your crotch and then up, to your left and your right, then back to your crotch. I want you to focus on that shifty look, that look that says, “I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing, in a place where doing so is inappropriate.” Look around the room, now, and ask yourself: “What exactly do you think your classmates thought you were doing there?”

Everyone giggles without needing to hear the punchline, but here’s the best part of it: the first time someone in the room tries to text, their classmates giggle again; and again; and again; and again. The punchline becomes a good-natured, self-policing policy—so much so that I once had a student come up to me before class and ask to be allowed to keep his self-phone on, as he was expecting an important text from a family member. As with cheating, I can’t be 100 percent positive that no texting occurs during my class, but at the very least I’ve created an environment that’s hostile to the practice.

By walking out, Dr. Thomas did the same, which is why I’m tipping my hat to him here.

“Murderer’s Row” Was the Nickname Given to the Lineup of the 2010 Mariners, Right?

[ 34 ] November 26, 2010 |

Shorter Verbatim OSU president Gordon Gee: “it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.”

Among the powerhouses played by OSU this year (Sagarin ranking):

  • Marshall (109)
  • Eastern Michigan (167, better than North Dakota but below such perennial powers as Central Connecticut and Maine.)
  • Ohio (75)
  • Purdue (86)
  • Indiana (105)
  • Minnesota (104)

Reasonable people can disagree about whether Boise State merits a BCS bid if it runs the table.   But for the president of a school in an overrated, past-its-prime conference that rarely schedules decent out-of-conference opposition to complain about his impossible competition, give me a break.    I, for one, have seen more than enough of Ohio State in national championship games; I’m sure Boisie can do at least as good a job at getting its ass kicked all over the field as the Buckeyes.

Annual Post Arguing That Thanksgiving Does Not Require Bland Food

[ 36 ] November 25, 2010 |

Ron Rosenbaum provides some new content:

White meat turkey has no taste. Its slabs of dry, fibrous material are more like cardboard conveyances, useful only for transporting flavorsome food like stuffing and gravy from plate to mouth. It’s less a foodstuff than a turkey app, simulated meat, a hyperlink to real food.

But since I do indeed respect Thanksgiving traditions, I will also link to Calvin Trillin. Here: a simplified version of Thomas Keller’s beef bourguignon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[ 3 ] November 25, 2010 |

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers from everyone at LGM, except for Scott who has a bad attitude about turkey and is Canadian in any case.

He’s #1!

[ 41 ] November 24, 2010 |

Hard to argue with Cohen, although Halperin and Freidman sure do make it tough.

Liberal McCarthyism

[ 20 ] November 24, 2010 |

I have to agree with Greenwald that this would-be smearing of John Tyner is an embarrassment. The basic thrust of the article is to invoke “Koch” the way wingers invoke “Soros” — to preemptively discredit any critic whether or not there’s any actual direct connection and without engagement on the merits. In addition, the personal details couldn’t be less damning. Indeed, his relatively consistent libertarianism makes him a far more credible critic of the TSA practices than conservatives who criticize the new TSA procedures (which might affect them!) as a respite from cheerleading arbitrary, illegal torture performed by the executive branch.

Bad “Intelligence”

[ 18 ] November 24, 2010 |

Blake Hounshell rips on NATO for only now figuring out that the high-ranking Taliban leader with with whom they had been in negotiations over the future of the country was an impostor:

How embarrassing. If only they’d looked out for these 10 ways of telling the true Talib from the con man, we wouldn’t be in this mess:

10. Keeps asking if the peace talks can be held in the Maldives

9. Eyepatch switches sides from meeting to meeting

8. Introduces himself as “Colonel Iqbal from the ISI”

7. Runs up a large minibar tab at the Four Seasons Kabul

6. Wife angling for a spot on “The Real Housewives of Kandahar”

5. Claims to be texting Mullah Omar but is actually just playing Angry Birds the whole time

4. Offers to settle Afghan War with a game of Jenga

3. Turban made of an actual towel

2. Wears trench coat, offers to sell the letters O and U

1. Agrees to trade Osama bin Laden for Justin Bieber

At La Riposte, the Editor doesn’t think it’s funny: Read more…

A Modest Proposal for Shifting the Strategic Calculus in the Korean Peninsula

[ 53 ] November 24, 2010 |

Robert Kelly, who teaches at Pusan National University, explains why South Korea’s threats of “enormous retaliation” against the North are, for now at least, probably empty rhetoric – despite the fact that as Dan Nexon points out, South Korea has DPRK outmatched in terms of firepower.

Kelly argues:

This probably won’t escalate, because the South Koreans have little appetite for war against NK. The sinking of the Cheonan was a far worse provocation (46 sailors died), but the SK military did nothing, because most South Koreans just want to forget about NK. They don’t want their wealthy comfortable democracy trashed in a war with a ruler they consider a quack. So South Koreans just put up with this stuff.

In an earlier post well worth revisiting, Kelly expanded on precisely why war is so frightening to South Koreans, despite the fact that they would win it:

SK’s hands are tied by the extreme vulnerability of its major population centers to NK retaliation. Specifically, following the above map of Korea’s provinces and cities, Seoul has 10.464 million; Gyeonggi province around it, filled with Seoul’s suburbs, has 11.549 million, and Incheon has 2.767 million. Busan by contrast has just 3.566 million. Korea’s total population is 48.875 million. (Those numbers come from a colleague at PNU’s Department of Public Policy and Management.) Worse yet, Busan’s population is shrinking, and Incheon’s is growing. So this means that 50% of Korea’s population lives within 50 miles of the DMZ, and 30% lives within just 35 miles.

NK knows this, and in order to hold SK hostage against any Southern retaliation for incidents like the Cheonan, it has stationed something like 10-20k artillery and rockets at the DMZ closest to this massive urban agglomeration in northwest SK. In effect then, half of the SK population is a massive city-hostage to NK, and it is only worsening because of Incheon’s rapid new growth. Given that Koreans mostly live in high-rise apartment buildings, some with 60+ stories, the result would be hundreds of World Trade Center collapses. I live in such a high-rise; I can’t imagine that it could realistically withstand a Scud missile or two. 2500 live in my building alone. Consider that all across Gyeonggi, and you have a holocaust.

Now this begs the obvious question: why is South Korea so willing to maintain and even exacerbate this status quo in the long term? Centralizing its population in the northwest not only puts its civilians at tremendous risk but also hobbles the governments’ ability to deter military threats. In other words, it compromises both state security and human security. And in the end it may simply not work, leading to massive civilian casualties.

One answer is that South Korea lacks viable options, but Kelly has a proposal worth contemplating: Read more…

How not to help your cause

[ 17 ] November 24, 2010 |

Turns out one of Goldstein’s brood took exception to my previous post and attempted to refute it by making a series of patently idiotic claims.  For example:

But Scott could at least have had the sense to not admit profound ignorance on what Beck ever says. I’m not surprised, though, because I know that for Serious People like SEK, admitting that he pays attention to the likes of Glenn Beck would collapse any credibility he may have among those whose good graces he desires to be in.

Your eyes don’t deceive you: the argument is, in fact, that criticizing Glenn Beck would “collapse any credibility [I] may have among those whose good graces [I] desire to be in.”  Because we all know left-leaning academics who criticize far-right lunatics are shunned by their colleagues.  Further depressing my credibility is my intellectual honesty, which here takes the form of my admission, up front, that I’m not a regular viewer of the show.  Note, though, that the claim is that I admitted a “profound ignorance on what Beck ever says,” which is strange because I did no such thing.  I wrote:

I try not to pay attention to Glenn Beck, but even when I have, I never really paid attention to him.

That’s “passing familiarity,” not “profound ignorance,” and the difference between the two should be obvious, and is, unless your refutation of my post continues thus:

You see, all of the topics that Glenn addresses–the dots that Scott attempts to connect–are topics that Glenn has has talked about at length in the past, so when he mentions this or that, he’s harking back to discussions he’s already had, discussions that most of the people watching have already heard.

Translation: “All the dots Scott connected have been connected in the past, and this refutes his argument somehow.”  How exactly?  Like so:
Read more…