Friday, February 26, 2010
apparently it's funny again! i stumbled on a new episode today and what the buck is making fun of "justin bieber" and his new video.
so, i watched this justin bieber's new video and i'm kind of in shock.
first of all, justin bieber is like 12. that's weird enough, but 12 year old pop stars isn't unheard of. bieber is kind of like the aaron carter of 2010.
what's weird is this video, for his song "baby" featuring LUDACRIS. ludacris!! ludacris is waaaaaaaaay to dirty to feature on a 12 year old's video. next thing you know kids listening to this junk will youtube ludacris and come up with 'what's your fantasy'.
anyways, here is the video:
so now that you've seen it, are you kind of like WTF?! why is that justin bieber so aggressive?!
that girl keeps pushing him away and he keeps grabbing at her. she's actually running away from him and he chases her while his friends are like "yeeaaaah beiber, get her!" he won't take no for an answer and then he offers her this:
I'll buy you any ring
Cause I'm in pieces
so come fix me
i'm pretty sure this kid is setting a reeeaaaaaallly bad example: boys should chase girls even when they physically push them away, because girls really mean yes when they push you away from them and run away from you.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
"sea world trainer's death: what happened? will we ever know?" "blancheau falls prey to killer whale" "sea world whale considered dangerous by staff"
the orca in question, tilikum, has been "involved" in two deaths before. so why continue to subject him to being a sea world captive when he clearly does not want to be there?
while there have been a lot of facts released about the trainer who was killed, not a lot about the orca is in the media except that he's dangerous and has "murdered" before.
but let's think about this orca for a second.
first of all, this orca wasn't born in captivity. he was captured near iceland in 1983 when he was about two years old. imagine one minute you're swimming in the expansive northern atlantic ocean and the next minute you're trapped in a tiny little pool without your pod.
he now measures 22 feet 6 inches long and weighs about 12,000 lbs.
his pectoral fins are six and on half feet long. his dorsal fin is 6ft tall, weighs 200lbs, and flops completely onto his left side.
he is the largest orca in captivity and here we go: the most successful sire in captivity.
that's right, he's sired 13 offspring, 10 of which are still alive. he sired his first calf when he was 8--interesting because wild orcas don't usually reach sexual maturity until later in life, and generally don't breed until they're quite a bit older.
breeding orcas in captivity is difficult, keeping them alive is also difficult. so it makes sense for sea world to want to keep an animal that can successfully breed. it saves them the hassle of needing to capture animals in the wild, and they can sell the calves for top dollar. FOR MONEY. they keep wild animals captive to make money.
so, i'm not surprised that this animal did what it did. it's a wild, gigantic, powerful, intelligent animal and i'm sure the trainer understood the danger of even being near it. it isn't dangerous because the animal was a cold-blooded killer, it's dangerous because it doesn't belong at sea world.
it's cruel to keep any animal captive, especially animals like dolphins and killer whales.
but people will continue to pay to see wild animals do sad, embarrassing tricks and to think that when a trainer gets hurt or killed at work it's some kind of freak accident. it isn't a freak accident, humans are the freak accident. when will we figure out that all life on this planet was not created for our amusement or survival?
captive animals should be released, and maybe one by one we should all drop ourselves into their natural habitats and see how well we do when we aren't protected by bars or plexiglass. the world would certainly be a better place without us.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
there aren't very many details yet about what actually happened, but right now a whale at sea world killed its trainer. maybe it killed her during a show, maybe not.
i am not a fan of the killer whale. anyone who knows me knows that i would rather get in a tank of sharks than a tank with one killer whale. the thought of a killer whale swimming with me in the ocean-- a huge fanged shadow--is terrifying.
that being said, i also respect these creatures. killer whales are ruthless and intelligent. they are extremely large carnivorous mammals and so, i think, deserve some props once in awhile.
this is why i'm going to go out on a limb and say what everyone is thinking: that trainer? she deserved it.
i'm sure she was a nice enough lady, and i feel bad for her family's loss, but sea worlds and the training of whales and dolphins cannot be condoned in any way.
now, if you're all like 'im going swimming in the ocean' and maybe you don't know that in the water you look like a seal and you get attacked by a killer whale, i'd feel sorry for you.
if you are someone who has dedicated their lives to forcing whales to do menial and denigrating "tricks" in tiny little pools for the enjoyment of people, while knowing full well what their nature makes them capable of, then you getting into that pool with them is just stupid and disrespectful.
and let's not pretend that sea world is some kind of haven for animals either. we all know that sea worlds treat their animals like shit. they don't have enough room to move around, they have to perform on a schedule, and the noise from the crowd and the filtration systems of the pool drive them crazy.
there is nothing sadder than seeing a killer whale in a tank, its fin drooping over because it has no freedom.
but besides all animals having the right to be free of captivity i seriously do not understand the logic behind captive killer whales.
have you seen that blue planet series? killer whales are so strategic it's scary. in one episode the crew follows a pod of killer whales who are stalking a mother grey whale and her baby. for FIVE HOURS. the killer whales stop calling to one another(which they do constantly) so that they don't tip the grey whales off. over the course of that five hours they systematically tire out the baby whale so that it can't swim on its own and separate him from his mother. they torture him, drown him, and then simply eat his jaw and swim away.
a killer whale isn't just an animal that you see and decide would be nice to keep awhile. you don't look at a killer whale and think "i can ride on that whale's head!!" those motherfuckers are dangerous!! it isn't a pygmy marmoset and it has the ability to seriously, seriously mess you up.
so, while it may be harsh, i just don't think that anyone should be shocked when a trainer's life is taken by an animal they force into servitude. they chose their profession and while they might like to trick themselves that the animals they ride on love them and enjoy performing it just isn't true and when the whales have had enough... well, then i guess you better get out of the tank yo.
Apparently I learned nothing from that 2007 antifreeze-tainted toothpaste scare, as a recent trip to the Extra Foods resulted in the purchase of a 99 cent tube of what appears to be Hannah Montana-flavoured Crest toothpaste.
Sure... you may think it’s ridiculous to postulate that a toothpaste bears the flavour of a pre-teen pop sensation, yet all packaging clues lead nowhere except to this conclusion: Most toothpaste labels have the word “Mint” (or one of its variations) set in 24 point Helvetica alongside a cheaply-drawn green leaf. Splattered across this tube’s label are the words “Hannah Montana” alongside a cheaply-photoshopped teenage commodity.
Given the parallelism, what else is am I to conclude? I doubt those two Disney logos or the pair of indecipherable product codes are signifying the flavour. Does NPN80000806 sound like a flavour to you?Okay. Perhaps it is a stretch to speculate that a 99 cent chemical gel exactly replicates Hannah Montana's flavour, but I suspect for a dental hygiene paste form, it’s a pretty accurate representation.
Hannah is cinnamon-y. With a hint of bubble gum. And a chemical kick reminiscent of those scratch-and-sniff books you’d take out from the public library as a kid... or perhaps a hit of poppers.
I’ve used half the tube.
But I think I’ve reached the end. Could it be those small sparkly solids suspended in the paste? Maybe it’s the Red 40 listed in the ingredients? Possibly it’s that nagging absence of a Canadian Dental Association seal of approval. Regardless, I just can’t use it any more.
Fortunately, I need not worry if a second Hannah Montana craving sets in. Though found in a clearance bin, the toothpaste is not irreplaceable (unlike, for example, teeth): A quick search of Amazon and Ebay reveals sellers seeking upwards of $32 for six-tube bundles. Even if Crest Hannah Montana flavour toothpaste leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it's practically consumer-grade gold.
this, however, is the best:
taken in san francisco, this ad was thrown up over an "approved" ad. it resonates.
it's similar to the sentiment raised by people/groups during the gay marriage debates in canada--should we or shouldn't we be fighting for the right to engage in institutions that have not only historically excluded us, but are also institutions that uphold certain values and systems that we might not believe in.
of course everyone should have the right to be married, to serve openly in the military, adopt children, etc. but there are broader questions that need to be asked about changing institutions before participating in them.
apparently the high school, harriton high in philadelphia, is being sued by the parents of a boy who the school accused of "improper behaviour in his home."
how did they know that he was engaging in improper behaviour? well, they issued all students laptops so that they could do their homework. that's nice of them? right?
the laptops had webcams on them and the schools added "spyware" so that they could keep an eye on the students. this means that the webcams were activated without the students knowing. creepy... apparently one student was called into an office for a talking to, and shown an image from the webcam as evidence.
the lawsuit against the school states: "many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including, but not limited to, in various stages of dress or undress."
so, besides this being a case of electronic surveillance/invasion of privacy couldn't it also potentially become a charge relating to child pornography? i feel like that's what the school should really be worried about at this point.
also, what did they expect to catch their students doing on these webcams?? dealing drugs? murdering someone?
it sounds like an incredibly stupid idea got a lot of people into a lot of trouble. when will schools learn that they can't control every aspect of their students' lives?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
now that we've seen the video in a few other places we realize that subway pigeon is not just any ordinary subway pigeon. subway pigeon has captured the hearts and minds of the people!
people respond to subway pigeon. subway pigeon knows that three dollar fare is an outrage. subway pigeon knows that while some ttc workers might be jerks, the majority of them are just trying to do their jobs. subway pigeon also knows that while the garbage strike was kind of a bummer, it was necessary. subway pigeons knows that toronto needs to do a better job with green bins, because noone wants to sort their garbage for nothing. subway pigeon knows what toronto needs.
it is for all these reasons that we've decided that subway pigeon should replace the downtrodden adam giambrone in the running for mayor of toronto.
toronto is going down the tubes, fast. we need a mayor who understands what this city needs at a grassroots level. who better for the job than a pigeon?
it's time to demand the mayor that toronto deserves! subway pigeon for mayor!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
it's true. i don't really agree with reasoning the repeal of don't ask don't tell with needing homosexual geniuses in the army, because i don't believe in the army. but allan turing is an incredible historical figure and really, really interesting. if you don't know much (or anything) about allan turing you should read "turing and the universal machine: the making of the modern computer" by jon agar. allan turing was not only a genius, he was basically a human time machine.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
a company is selling a set of golf balls and emblazoned on each ball is the face of a woman tiger woods cheated on his wife with.
called "tail of the tiger" golf balls, the set includes the names and short bios of each woman involved in the scandal.
one of the women has come forward to complain that the balls are offensive. she stated:
"as a victim of violence myself, it bothered me to think that someone would be standing with a dangerous club in their hands and hitting a ball with my face on it."
seems logical, yes? well on the huffington post the headline was "tiger woods golf balls upset porn star star joslyn james" and they described her as having a criminal record and being wanted in the state of washington.
so if you're in porn and have a criminal record then you shouldn't have a problem this kind of product? i understand the huffington post needs to sensationalize everything to get readers but honestly, that is the same as saying that sex workers/strippers/"porn stars" can't get raped or be victims of violence.
this woman has every right to be angry about these golf balls. in fact, we should all be angry about these golf balls. had the women that tiger woods cheated on his wife with been other athletes, legitimate film actresses, "good" women, this product wouldn't exist. if he had an affair with one of the athletes on the olympic team i can bet you that her lawyer would be successful in having these golf balls removed from the market.
it's disgusting. we live in a society where tonnes of women are abused and violated every single day. maybe it's a joke to some people, but maybe those people have never been on the receiving end of a golf club. i can guarantee you that any woman who has will not find these golf balls funny in the slightest.
he sent out a pamphlet in december in which he stated he would "set the record straight" on metis leader louis riel.
goldring calls riel, the founder of manitoba and defender of metis culture and rights, a "villain" with blood on his hands. apparently finding out the there was a proposal to build a statue of riel on parliament hill drove goldring off the deep edge because he feels like that would condone "civil disobedience."
well.. yeah. it might. the red river rebellion and the north-west rebellion are legendary and louis riel paid for both with his life. being one of the only sanctioned resistance figures taught in canadian history, louis riel probably sparks a lot of politics in a lot of people and so it follows that his statue could represent some of that. riel also shaped canada's geographical boundaries and helped to protect cultural traditions and histories that makes the prairie regions so unique.
unfortunately for goldring noone is interested in taking his side on this one--especially his own party, the conservatives. the prime minister's office and several colleagues have denounced his stance, which makes him look even more bat shit crazy.
Friday, February 19, 2010
apparently the mayor of a town in france is claiming discrimination after the fast food chain 'quick' decided to sell halal hamburgers exclusively in eight of its restaurants so instead of pork the restaurants are offering turkey or beef.
the mayor of roubaix says that quick's decision "discriminates against non-muslim citizens" and so the town council has filed a complaint against the restaurant.
in additio to filing his complain, the mayor is also planning on addressing the high authority for the struggle against discrimination and for equality in frances.
'i say no to the halal exclusivity,'' he states ''a halal product responds to the needs of a part of the population, to propose only halal products is discriminatory towards the citizens of roubaix.''
correct me if i'm wrong, but there is no restriction against non muslim peoples eating halal meat. so.. it is discrimination to decide against selling pork? because some people want that pork? what?
so if i own a restaurant, and i stop serving your favorite thing on the menu, that is discrimination now?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
i skipped over the page because i don't care about google buzz. i assumed that i would have to actually start it up for it to do anything weird--like show personal contacts on a public profile page.
but if you have a google profile, or have used the buzz once, your personal information might be public by now.
you have to actually disable the thing to avoid this happening.
"To turn this off, sign into your Google account (via Gmail or elsewhere) and head to your Google profile—that link should work if you're signed in. Look for the two links showing "Following X people" and "X people following me." There's a gray note underneath those numbers, indicating whether they're visible to just you or to everyone. If they're visible to everyone, hit the "Edit Profile" link on the right-hand edge of the blue bar in the middle of the page, to the right of "About me," "Buzz," and "Contact info." In the third column of options there, there are checkboxes that control privacy features, and one of them is labeled "Display the list of people I'm following and people following me." Un-check that box, and now your list of followers and followees is private—or at least seen only by those you're following, perhaps.
Want Google Buzz gone entirely? Log into Gmail, then look at the bottom of your inbox page for a "Turn off Buzz" link. "
you can read more about it here:
i feel like it doesn't take a genius to understand that most people don't want their contacts, who they contact most, etc to be on a public profile on the internet for anyone to see.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
if you put your penis into another man's rectum and wiggle it around in excrement then obviously you shouldn't be allowed to marry that man! those kinds of things are meant for the private enjoyment of closeted politicians in airport and public park bathrooms who publicly denounce and legislate against love being present during such acts.
you can hire a prostitute to do those things to, but everyone knows you don't marry her or him.
if you truly believe in the sanctity of love and marriage you vehemently deny that you use your genitals in any way and you certainly deny that you would allow anyone to wiggle around in your excrement.
and when you truly believe in the sanctity of love and marriage, as representative nancy elliot obviously does, you must not ever acknowledge that there is any other way to live than you publicly pretend to live. man+woman+penis+vagina=baby. and that's it. that's all there should ever, ever be.
so soldier on nancy elliot.
and for the record, bitch on the right is TOTALLY imagining that "allowing that to happen to her".
So long as the laws remain such as they are today, employ some discretion: loud opinion forces us to do so; but in privacy and silence let us compensate ourselves for that cruel chastity we are obliged to display in public.
-marquis de sade
Friday, February 12, 2010
in the new york times today there was an article about a young german author whose first novel has been a huge success. helene hegemann's book "axolotl roadkill" is a best seller and is getting great reviews.
the 17 year old author has written a play(which has been staged) as well as a movie which probably helped her book sales out a little bit.
unfortunately, last week a blogger discovered that material in her novel was taken from another novel called "strobo" by airen and in some cases entire pages were lifted with just a few changes.
soon, other unauthorized sources were noted in the book and the young author had some trouble on her hands.
in her defense, ms. hegemann wrote that she is "the representative of a different generation, one that freely mixes and matches from the whirring flood of information across new and old media, to create something new."
she also stated that "there’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity."
i'm all for young authors being experimental, but this is just entitled. so there's no such thing as originality so it's alright for you to steal other people's original work and take the credit for writing it?
when you "mix" something, borrow from something, you credit it. because if you don't, it's called plagiarism. especially in print. to credit someone is part of a culture of respect for other people's work and to neglect to do so is a symptom of selfishness and ignorance. it means that your "authenticity" was won at the cost of someone else's obscurity but that you're more concerned about people thinking you're an amazing writer than letting people in on the secret of WHY you're such a good writer.
basically it's like if you lifted something from david foster wallace and then you were all like "look how experimental my prose is, i'm sooo cutting edge." stealing it first doesn't make you cutting edge.
she is right, there is no such thing as originality and we all borrow from somewhere. noone can claim that their work isn't in part lifted from somebody else. but most people at least try to give credit where it's due and this story just reeks of a 17 year old brat who didn't think for a moment that anyone would second guess her genius.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"attitudes and preferences that might be appropriate in the world of business could be fatal to a university...the special nature of a university cannot be understood except by those who devote their lives to teaching and scholarship, in the same way that the nature of medical practice cannot be comprehended by non-doctors, or the nature of corporate business enterprise by those who have never served in a corporation. better have scholars running banks than bankers governing scholars."
why was there an announcement on www.globeinvestor.com when jennifer sloan became vp university relations at york university?
why, since the beginning of 2010 have the "appointments notice" on globalinvestor.com showcased eight appointments to institutions of higher learning?
where they list the most recent appointments to corporations like kellogg's, novartis, genome canada, and aviva they also list university appointments because our post-secondary educations are becoming nothing more than pharmaceutical and mining corporations: they make a shit load of money pumping out shitty products that other corporations can buy for cheap.
we here at pamphleteers think jennifer sloan should be replaced as vp university relations for the reasons we discussed HERE.
we're sick of our university being run by business goons and frauds with fake qualifications.
and of course our student newspaper the excalibur essentially just got down on their knees and gave jennifer the old york welcome, totally eschewing their responsibility as journalists and writing this embarrassing puff piece about her.
i just finished reading jeanette walls' book the glass castle, and in it she describes her encounter with an unpleasant creature:
"probably because of all the garbage a big nasty looking river rat took up residence...i first saw him in the sugar bowl...this rat was not just eating the sugar. he was bathing in it, wallowing in it, positively luxuriating in it, his flickering tail hanging over the side of the bowl, flinging sugar across the table....brian threw the cast iron skillet at the rat. it hit him and clanged on the floor, but instead of fleeing, the rat hissed at us, as if we were the intruders. we ran out of the kitchen, slammed the door, and stuffed rags in the gap beneath it."
jennifer sloan, alex bilyk, mamdouh shoukri, martin singer, harriet lewis, and every other administrator repsonsible for driving this university into the ground is the rat luxuriating in that sugar bowl. positively luxuriating!! and they expect us to just run away like it's not even our own kitchen.
it is though, we pay for that kitchen! it belongs to us, and just like the rats from the lady and the tramp, if we don't get rid of them they will eat our baby.
this is not our university while students and faculty don't have the power to decide or help decide who is in charge. enough is enough. let's get rid of these corporate idiots.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
just two newspaper men, having a chat about vari hall. i wish they wouldn't embarass themselves, because everyone who knows anything about the excalibur knows that they're reading from a script hand-written by the administration of the university(otherwise i would comment about using a student newspaper to air your own opinions and bias... ).
they say that "the vast majority" of students( as demonstrated by "two polls) at york university are in favour of renovating vari hall(the focal point of the university campus)?
really? no offense, mclean/ros, but "the vast majority" of people who completed your polls probably don't account for the entire university population--and students aren't the only people entitled to an opinion in this matter. faculty and staff have a vested interest in this university and they too should have a say.
but let's just say, for a moment, that if all of the students who take your poll say they want vari hall renovated, it should be renovated? does it matter that the building was designed by an award winning architect raymond moriyama of the firm moriyama&teshima?
moriyama was made an officer of the order of canada in 1985 and in 2008 was promoted to companion of the order of canada. he was also awarded the order of ontario and received a governor general's laureate award in visual and media arts in 2009.
on their website, moriyama & teshima describe vari hall:
"One of the issues explored in the building's design was how architecture can support and even encourage the learning process. In Vari Hall learning is not confined to classrooms and lecture halls. Rather, it spills out into stairways, corridors, under stairs, wherever students can gather informally and spontaneously to discuss and debate. "
so, you're going to just change an award winning architect's design because its original purpose and vision doesn't suit you anymore? that doesn't make any sense.
i have an idea, maybe we should just tear york university down and re-build it as the panopticon? maybe that would solve your problem.
york is notorious for being hideous and over crowded. one of the beautiful things about vari hall is not just that it was DESIGNED for public usage/protesting/education outside of classrooms but that it's an amazing open space with windows and flow.
it doesn't need to be "spiced up" with tables and chairs.
maybe you'd like to spice up some mozart with a few guitar rifts? or maybe auto-tune a wagner? or maybe you could paint van gogh as a more handsome man?
take vari hall away from york university, and you might as well rename it york mall, because that's what we'll look like.
i can't even listen to this entire video because these men sound so ridiculously stupid. please, please do us a favour and stop making videos, you're making us ALL look bad.
Monday, February 8, 2010
valentine's day is coming up so every website has a "what to/what not to get" list highlighting the best and worst gifts one could buy or receive on the day.
i think valentine's day is really, really pointless and i don't "celebrate". lots of people, however, do enjoy a good valentine. to point out that valentine's day is kind of sexist, focuses too much on money spent, and is a waste of a holiday wouldn't change these people's minds. they like it and they'll continue to like it.
so, it's annoying when the huffington post runs a "13 things NOT to get your valentine" and it's basically the most sexist and offensive shit ever. here are four of the thirteen:
- do not get your valentine a heart shaped pizza because it says: "we have noone left to impress anymore. let's eat our feelings together."
- do not buy her a pink video game console because it will say: "i want you to think i bought this for you, but i bought it for me"
- generic drugstore gift says: "i love you so much i thought of you while picking up my prescriptions"
- a homemade coupon for something nice, like hugs or backrubs, because that says: "i was going to get you a gift certificate for a massage, but it was a lot cheaper and easily printed from the internet"
i honestly don't know what people are expecting on valentine's day if they're not going to eat pizza and play video games together. if pizza/video games aren't what you're into, fair ball, but if that is what you like to do then is it really the huffington post's place to put that down?
i think not.
Friday, February 5, 2010
markus kip, a teaching development graduate assistant from york university, organized a pretty great event a little while back called de-grading: sociological and pedagogical critiques of grading and alternative teaching practices at york university.
you might think that at a university like york, events like this would be happening all of the time. but that just isn't true. more often than not people just ignore the politics of grading, take cues from their professors, and follow policies that don't exist.
here is an excerpt from the discussion:
"I am a second year Ph D in the School of Women’s Studies. I completed my MA at the University of Toronto where I worked as a Teaching Assistant twice. Currently I work as a graduate assistant because as of May, 2009 I am not allowed to teach at York University in any capacity. When people ask me why I’m not TA-ing this year, the majority of them are tentative. Because, honestly, what do you have to do to be barred from teaching? Be a sexual predator(unless you’re a tenured prof)? Get arrested for doing something crazy? Threaten a student or the course director?
It seems like you have to do a lot to get banned from teaching so people are a little relieved when I say that I’ve been banned from teaching for giving high grades.
Officially, one of the reasons for my dismissal as a TA is because I had one “atypical” grade profile. But, as I’ll discuss, grading serves a greater purpose than simply being an evaluative tool, and as it was explained to my tutorial group after I was suspended from the course less than a month before the final exam, I was dismissed for the larger problem of my “non-compliance.” I didn’t cooperate.
Before we went on strike last year, my students-part of a large first level foundations course(Women and Society)--received the exact copy of the midterm they would write when we returned from the strike. So, when I finally got down to grading the midterms post-strike I wasn’t really that surprised when my tutorial group had a high proportion of As and A+s.
According to what I understood to simply be a guideline at the time, no more than 50% of my students should have had a combination of As and A+s. But guidelines aren’t official policies, and York has no official grade curving policy, so I went ahead and assigned the grades I believed my students had worked for.
Believing that my prof-an esteemed feminist professor who writes about critical pedagogy, power in the classroom, and labour movements- would be in a position to understand the circumstances of this midterm, I sent in my grade profile and thought nothing of it.
Since sending in that grade profile, events have unfolded that have taught me more about grading than I ever could have learned.
Larry Lyons, Undergraduate Program Director of the Division of Social Sciences, succinctly described to me York University‘s ‘unofficial‘ grading policy: “We cannot allow atypical grades to stand.”
Since receiving this email I have filed a harassment grievance against my former course supervisor, had disciplinary action filed against me as retaliation, been denied fair and due process, and been dismissed from my position as a TA. Not only was I removed from this particular course, but according to the then Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts(Heather Campbell), I am not able to be “in charge of a tutorial group, or in any way involved with undergraduate students.” Effectively, this bars me from teaching in any capacity at York University or engaging in any kind of employment that might involve undergraduate students.
As a PhD student, I’m sure you can see how this might be a bit of a problem. Part of our education as graduate students is “learning” to teach. As (hopefully) future professors at universities, teaching assistant experience is vital to those of us who want to focus on educating. But what I have learned first hand is that while the University(and especially progressive disciplines, under the supervision of leftist professors) seems like a good place to test our ideas about critical pedagogies and radical education, to counter the often oppressive hoops we were all forced to jump through in our undergrad careers, we really aren’t meant to succeed in any of these endeavors.
Grades aren’t only used to categorize students or to represent the quality of their work. They have an important significance in the training, monitoring, and disciplining of graduate students. In my case, my grade profile indicated to Professor Briskin that I was not following the 125 page book of rules she gave us at the beginning of the year and that I had not ensured that my students would fall into a specific profile.
Jeff Schmidt writes that an “important role of schools is socialization: the promulgation of an outlook, attitudes, and values. The employer trusts the teaching professional to manage interactions in such a way as to advance the proper values. The professional teacher is one who can be trusted to extrapolate to new situations the ideology inherent in the official school curriculum.”
While I have been told numerous times that I have not been expected to curve grades and that York doesn’t curve grades, what my atypical profile told professor Briskin, the department of social sciences, and the faculty of arts was that I wasn’t a “good” teaching assistant because I wasn’t voluntarily curving my grades. A good worker doesn’t need to be supervised, because they voluntarily discipline themselves and ensure that their behaviour is institutionally approved. While simultaneously acclimatizing teaching assistants to being in a position of authority over their students as well as encouraging the solidification and deployment of this power, grading allows administrators and tenured professors to monitor how well their t.a’s fit into the system. Larry Lyons told me that my professor was to judge everything I did, that she is “an eminent professor” who tells other people “what the york standards are, its not up to her to compare, she knows, she’s an expert,” so if she tells me that my grades are correct, then they’re correct. This attitude towards the assigning and surveillance of grades ensures that students and graduate students understand their role in the hierarchy.
And most of us try to fit into the system, much as we claim we don’t. We conform to the expectation that we will grade hard, either for the time being-until we have freedom to grade our own classes- or we really swallowed what they told us about students only learning when we force them to. It’s common knowledge that first time TA’s mark too hard in many cases. I know I did. Eventually I realized that my students actually didn’t learn more when I gave them bad marks, they just cried for a week. Giving bad grades becomes a kind of badge of honour for some TA’s: that they somehow don’t give free rides, and their students are better off for it. Bad grades become their pedagogical standpoint. However, I think that more often than not bad grades serve as their way of indicating to professors and authorities within the university that they can play the game, that they fit in and that anyone who says that TA’s giving bad grades for no reason is about education and not about power tripping is a liar.
Jeff Schmidt also writes that “the willingness shown by the new graduate to function harmoniously with the system is usually not the disingenuous kind shown by people who have fundamental reservations but who are reluctantly going along with the only choice available. The new graduate often feigns reluctance so as to maintain appearances, but it is usually painfully obvious that deep down something has changed. The individual has taken a step toward adopting the worldview of the system and goals compatible with the system. Students who once spoke critically of the system are now either silent or fearfully "fair and responsible" in their criticism. They are careful not to be provocative -- not to do or say anything that might displease individuals in authority. Any opposition is now sufficiently abstract and theoretical to not be provocative”
We can write about critical pedagogy and activism in the academy, but we only practice what we preach to the extent that it doesn’t really affect our position in the university. So we “put up” with the rules so that “later on” we can be radical. But somewhere along the way we realize it’s easier to just keep pretending to put up with the rules, because we gain more that way. Why, throughout this entire process, was I told over and over again (from union reps and administrators alike) that nobody does this? That what I’ve done is crazy because noone takes it this far?? Why, At an institution like York University, with a local union like CUPE 3903, are we not taking our politics farther, are we not making our own rules?
One of the reasons is that we think it will end our academic careers. But, in truth, being complacent will do more to end our academic careers because what is the point of being an academic who has no real politics?
And just to be clear, I didn’t refuse to grade my students, and I didn’t give them all A+s. In fact, my grade profiles aren’t that atypical. Rather, what my experience demonstrates is the hidden disciplinary and surveillance role that grades play, especially in the lives of graduate students.
Focusing on my “grading practice” served to obfuscate the harassment that I was being subjected to prior to and following my atypical grade profile. In a meeting with Richard Wellen, (outspoken Union enthusiast extraordinaire) in which we were supposed to discuss the formal harassment grievance I had filed against Linda Briskin, I was told that I could go back to teaching my course if I would give him some assurance that I knew that what I had done was “wrong” and that I would correct my behaviour. Instead of dealing with my harassment grievance, Wellen was giving me one last chance to agree to be good. When I wouldn’t agree to giving pre-determined grades they offered me something else: leave the course, get a new job next year, get paid in full, drop the grievance. When I said I wasn’t interested in leaving my job a month before the final exam and dropping a harassment grievance for money, they gave me a new ultimatum: leave willingly, sign off, or we’re disciplining you. And by the way, you’re not teaching in the course anymore.
In an email to my union rep, Heather Campbell wrote that “If I wasn’t willing to sign it, She would begin Article 8 proceedings.” For those of you who don’t know, Article 8 in the Collective Agreement is “Discipline.” This means that after I filed a harassment grievance against my prof, she made complaints about me, which the Associate Dean decided to pursue, while ignoring my complaint.
Of the four official complaints, one is in regards to grading: “that you have refused the direction of your Course Director in grading according to the standards, policy, and practices for the course.” The other three complaints were regarding my “non-compliance.” When you get hit with an Article 8, you get a chance to defend yourself at a meeting, and then the Associate Dean makes a decision regarding your case. Even though I presented detailed evidence that each of their claims was false and I was never given any evidence that substantiated their complaints, I was dismissed.
Heather Campbell called me a “clever girl” and accused me of being mischievous(which is not only patronising but also extremely sexist language). In her official decision letter she wrote my grades were “seriously anomalous both in terms of the course policy and in terms of the instructions and explanations given to you in writing by your course director, as well as the university’s common grading scheme.” So I violated several unofficial policies, guidelines, and “schemes.” I didn’t have the same grading paradigm as the course director that I worked for. Apparently at York University this is enough to have you barred from teaching. If the discipline seems disproportionate to the crime to you, you’re definitely not alone. The real reason I was disciplined, however, became clear when Heather Campbell wrote that I had taught my students about the University’s role in the structure of systemic oppression. And, that I had also presented Professor Briskin as part of this structure.
So, I was dismissed from teaching because I told the truth. Because instead of just teaching students about theoretical oppression and encouraging them to do things like write to their M.Ps, or to emulate my politics, I encouraged them to continue doing what they had already begun to do: look at their owns lives and identify oppression within it.
In short, I was dismissed as a teacher for actually teaching. I challenged the hypocrisy inherent in a feminist professor who theorizes about harassment and power in the classroom harassing her employee. Because I didn’t just talk the talk, I took what I’d learned in University(and what I learned from the professor herself) and I put it into action.
Denis Rancourt has written that “so-called radical professors who promote radical thinking are the top-end neutralizers of activist students.” In the real world, you don’t just get cred for writing something, you get cred for acting. Unlike academia, in the real world actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, radical professors are just as likely to have an investment in the hierarchies of the university, because somewhere along the line they fell into a comfortable place in that hierarchy and threatening that just isn’t worth the risk. He has also written that these issues are about “control, external power, class privilege, and an emperor who has no clothes.” We can enjoy all of the perks of privilege more easily if we are perceived as being radicals. As one of my former students wrote, “I find it truly ironic that the people who possess such distinguished "titles" are the ones dishonoring what it means to be advocates of quality education.”
I spoke briefly about why we don’t challenge grades, or harassment, or the hierarchies that we face every day. I think most people are afraid that they’ll lose their jobs but the funny thing about my situation was that I did lose my job, but not my funding. These people toe the line of what they can and cannot do because they know that most people aren’t going to challenge them--they’ve gotten away with it for so long.... So, people can challenge these things. You won’t lose your job forever or maybe you won’t lose your job at all. Maybe all you’ll accomplish by taking the risk to actually stand up for what you believe in will be making it a little easier for the next person to do the same.
I’ll end with another quote from Jeff Schmidt. In his book disciplined minds he compares cult tactics to the tactics used in graduate schools to subordinate students and employees to the institution. He writes that “lack of solidarity is another sign that the community is artificial. when a dispute arises between a member and a leader, fellow members don’t come forward with support. nor do members band together to empower themselves within the organization. rather, they compete to subordinate themselves to the leaders, angling to gain security that way.” The good news is that, while there has been some back-turning throughout this situation, we do have a real political community here at York and I’ve received real support from my colleagues and students throughout this experience.
My students, a group of first year students, organized themselves and wrote a protest letter to the professor--which they signed and hand delivered to her in class. In this letter they demonstrate their knowledge of the course material by analyzing the Professor and the University’s actions in my case, including a deconstruction of the Professor’s privileged position in the disciplinary process. To prove to the Professor that not only did they deserve the high grades they received, but that they weren’t students that needed to be forced to learn, they were learning and they were acting. I think this is one of the reasons the University is willing to take risky disciplinary actions like these, because they understand that here at York there is an energy and a community that could actually threaten their power and they'll do anything to stop that."
the great thing about a chalking day is that it makes the university's intentions so transparent. why would they send security officers to crack down on students with sidewalk chalk??
why is it silly to be tough on chalking/chalkers? three obvious reasons:
- chalk eventually is erased by the outdoor elements
- it's a creative way for students to engage with their campus
- it brightens up an ugly blank cement facade.
so allan rock, you should back off, because your obvious student/prof/fun busting motivation is like a bad thong and we can all see it.
below is a letter sent from the organizers of chalking day to president allan rock. the best part about this letter is the invitation to allan to come add his own message to the chalkboard.
it always baffles me as to why university administrators don't battle students with kindness rather than heavy handedness. so instead of sending hired goons to threaten and discourage chalking, why didn't allan rock himself show up, ask for a piece of chalk, and write a goddamned message and support a great idea? don't they understand that calling the police provokes students while going to participate in chalking day could foster actual conversation??
so enjoy the wonderfully crafted letter below. maybe those of us at york university should take the chalking day cue and organize our own beautification of campus soon, because everyone knows york ain't nothin' but ugly concrete.
Members of the same U of O "Protection" force that yesterday facilitated an illegal police intrusion into the Student Appeals Centre (SAC) office and the violent arrests of student Marc Kelly and SFUO President Seamus Wolfe came uninvited and disrupted the student-organized Chalking Day event at the Morisset cement poster backing walls.
Please back off Mr. Rock.
There was absolutely no "Protection" need that required a muscular intervention and disruption of our event. Student participants were harassed by Protection agents and their pictures were taken without their permission.
Despite your unfortunate intervention, the event was a success. Over 30 students contributed to filling the backing walls with colourful political messages of all types. We recommend that you read these messages Mr. Rock.
The "Protection" officers displayed disturbing unprofessional behaviour. They openly threatened the ludicrous criminal charge of "damaging University property" but then proceeded to watch and not even warn most students who contributed to the chalking. They threatened criminal charges backed by their photos but did not intervene or call Ottawa Police to stop the alleged dreadful "damage to property".
Political and informative messages in chalk on a campus wall is not a criminal offence. Drop the guns and handcuffs, Mr. Rock. Send your "Protection" agents to actually protect. For example, they could protect freedom of expression.
We ask you not to remove any of the student participants' messages, and to respect Chalking Day. The "Protection" officers did explain your logic of hiring an expensive removal crew in order to demonstrate "damage" and assign it a monetary value, but don't go there Mr. Rock. Don't go there. Don't spend our tuition money to remove our free expression. Your officers and lawyers have better things to do.
Consider instead adding your own message to the wall, about one of your human rights projects in Africa, say.
Also, we welcome your suggestions about parts of the chalking that could be removed. In this case we would do ourselves (using water and a brush).
Student Chalkers of the University of Ottawa (SCUO)
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
and allowing what looks like a boring piece of crap advertisement to run:
isn't the superbowl ad all about making money? this guy should make a video about allowing the gay dating service ad to run, since he's soooo pro-choice.
none of these make any difference when you're buying greens, because they are all contaminated.
according to the most recent consumer report, packaged leafy greens that were tested had bacteria that are "common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination, in some cases, at rather high levels."
you can read the actual report here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm
but you might be a little bit lazy, which is why you buy pre-packaged leafy greens, so i'll break it down for you.
right now in the united states there is no feeral standard for "indicator bacteria" in salad greens although there are standards for beef, milk, and drinking water. because we get a lot of salad greens from the united states, this is something that we might want to be concerned about.
the suggested unacceptable level would be about 10,000 or more of "colony forming units per gram".
with that guideline in mind, let's look at the results of the tests:
- 39 percent of samples exceeded 10,000 CFUs (or another similar measure) per gram for total coliforms and 23 percent for Enteroccocus, the levels industry consultants deemed unacceptable.
- 2 percent of samples exceeded French and 5 percent Brazilian standards for fecal coliform bacteria.
- Many packages containing spinach, and packages which were one to five days from their use-by date, had higher bacterial levels. Packages six to eight days from their use-by date generally fared better.
- Whether the greens came in a clamshell or bag, included "baby" greens, or were organic made no difference in bacteria levels.
- Brands for which there were more than four samples, including national brands Dole, Earthbound Farm Organic, and Fresh Express, plus regional and store brands, had at least one package with relatively high levels of total coliforms or Enteroccocus.
translation: you have to wash your salad/leafy greens before you eat them. rinsing them off won't really wash away any bacteria but it can get rid of "residual soil" which could contain bacteria and other fecal-related nasty things.
or, better yet, buy whole heads of lettuce and fresh spinach. yes, they also have some residual soil on them but they don't have to go through the same packaging process as the bagged stuff=less dirty hands on yo' lettuce.
despite it being one of watterson's only interviews since the 80's, the interviewer asks him the stupidest questions ever.
the only interesting thing about this interview are watterson's answers. this man is a genius. he manages to be hilarious and brilliant even in response to dull and insipid questions.
so here is the entire interview:
With almost 15 years of separation and reflection, what do you think it was about "Calvin and Hobbes" that went beyond just capturing readers' attention, but their hearts as well?
The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts.
I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can't explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don't think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once.
What are your thoughts about the legacy of your strip?
Well, it's not a subject that keeps me up at night. Readers will always decide if the work is meaningful and relevant to them, and I can live with whatever conclusion they come to. Again, my part in all this largely ended as the ink dried.
Readers became friends with your characters, so understandably, they grieved -- and are still grieving -- when the strip ended. What would you like to tell them?
This isn't as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of 10 years, I'd said pretty much everything I had come there to say.
It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.
I think some of the reason "Calvin and Hobbes" still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it.
I've never regretted stopping when I did.
Because your work touched so many people, fans feel a connection to you, like they know you. They want more of your work, more Calvin, another strip, anything. It really is a sort of rock star/fan relationship. Because of your aversion to attention, how do you deal with that even today? And how do you deal with knowing that it's going to follow you for the rest of your days?
Ah, the life of a newspaper cartoonist -- how I miss the groupies, drugs and trashed hotel rooms!
But since my "rock star" days, the public attention has faded a lot. In Pop Culture Time, the 1990s were eons ago. There are occasional flare-ups of weirdness, but mostly I just go about my quiet life and do my best to ignore the rest. I'm proud of the strip, enormously grateful for its success, and truly flattered that people still read it, but I wrote "Calvin and Hobbes" in my 30s, and I'm many miles from there.
An artwork can stay frozen in time, but I stumble through the years like everyone else. I think the deeper fans understand that, and are willing to give me some room to go on with my life.
How soon after the U.S. Postal Service issues the Calvin stamp will you send a letter with one on the envelope?
Immediately. I'm going to get in my horse and buggy and snail-mail a check for my newspaper subscription.
How do you want people to remember that 6-year-old and his tiger?
I vote for "Calvin and Hobbes, Eighth Wonder of the World."
Monday, February 1, 2010
underwater flying? you mean swimming?
the first prototype cost $664,000 and can go 130 feet under and now they're building a new one which will be able to travel 35,000 ft below the surface.
i'd just like to point out here that the deepest known part of the ocean is 36,200 ft...so.. i don't know, 35,000 seems like a pretty lofty goal.
so will your submarine plane only take its "flights" in the mariana trench?
branson plans to base the "plane" on his private island and commission it for private tours. because what the world also needs right now is more privatised leisure for the wealthy.
the 15 year old girl came forward about abuse that took place when she was younger and charles henry bennet admitted to the crime. he also admitted that his plan was to make the girl his "sex slave"
we all have to wait in like for ten hours at the airport so someone can grope us, throw out our travel shampoos, and quiz us about the addresses of the people we're going to visit but the TSA can employ someone who is obviously a child molester?
i'd just like to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the ways that "terrorists" are characterized as these crazy brown men who exploit and disrespect women, but the dudes "protecting" the nation are heroes.
it doesn't make sense to organize people into two categories and in such black and white terms, and this is one example of why things aren't so cut and dry.