So there's a textbook required for the Composition One class I teach, and while normally I just ignore it if not openly disparage it, there are a few lessons I use from its opening chapters since they're relevant to what the students will do in Comp Two. I don't want my students to be the ones who don't know what ethos is.
(Nobody knows what ethos is.)
Part of this involves a lesson on what the book calls angle of vision which is mostly about how writers control their messages using their perspective, etc. etc. Basic stuff. In the past, the book had a cartoon that made the point that people with different priorities could see the same issue in a variety of ways. This issue was stem cells. Fair enough, that's an issue on which reasonable people can disagree (even if some of them are clearly much, much more reasonable).
So I open this year's textbook expecting to find that same cartoon and instead, there's this:
The textbook people, apparently too burned by the controversy over stem cells (in a lesson designed to prepare students to argue effectively no less), decided that this year's issue on which reasonable people could disagree was sweatshops. And somehow they couldn't even come up with a 50/50 split of opinions. 4 out of 6 people in their little scenario are seemingly in favor of sweatshops and only some greasy hippie objects on moral grounds.
Even the explicitly Asian sweatshop worker kid is in favor of sweatshops! Come on, Liang, you couldn't have at least said, "I have mixed feelings on working 14 hour days for pennies."
I really don't know what else to say about it. None of it makes any sense to me. It might be a brilliant but cynical take down of consumer culture and modern capitalism or it might be that someone thinks sweatshops are an issue with sides.
Thank god they didn't ask these people:
Yes, I drew those. Yes, it took more than 10 minutes. No, I will not be drawing again.
* You definitely need to check out the new The Literary Review which is really beautiful and full of great work and also a couple of [SPOILER ALERT]s. You can actually read those online, but then you'd be missing out on the rest of the fantastic stuff and that would make you, I hate to say it, some kind of idiot. Don't be an idiot.
* There are also some [SPOILER ALERT]s in the new Copper Nickel which--and this isn't just talk--is also beautiful. Seriously. I don't get it. We feel very lucky to have the pieces in two very cool journals. Or at least I do. I don't know how Laura Eve feels. Let's go ask her.
* I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel good about my thoughts on Rick Perry so quickly proving themselves accurate. Or maybe that's not what happened. I don't know. The important thing is that everyone seems to have realized he's an idiot (probably because he didn't read all the way through his literary journals). Bush overcame it. Can Perry? Something tells me he can't. Romney it is (which is actually maybe scary though the John Kerry parallels would be both eery and reassuring).
* "Hey, that final baseball day sure was crazy, wasn't it?" - everyone.
* And yes, yes it was. Look for more Royals thoughts soon in the rare SPM-other blog crossover. And by rare I mean it's never happened and I'm surprised anyone asked.
I found this shirt in Madison in anticipation of this week's game against Nebraska, and I have to say, it's sort of awesome. That it's in Nebraska's colors (only because Wisconsin shares them), that there's something so linguistically strange about its chosen insult--its concern with ranking and history and that it attacks the state as a whole and not the football team or the university--well, I sort of want it. I wish it had a question mark at the end as if it, like, meant to start a conversation about Nebraska's place in the country or maybe took more seriously its use of "ever" which confuses everything, but still, it's a really idiosyncratic shirt which could only have sprung from a rivalry which is not and never will be real.
I love it.
I want Nebraska to answer with their own strange insults when these two teams meet again in the Big 10 Championship game:
So I was in an airport bathroom--which always sounds like it will lead to a better story than it does--washing my hands when I hear a man behind me gasp and yell, "There's a woman in there!"
I think, O, that's weird, I didn't remember seeing a woman or anyone else during any part of the urinating process, but, well, I wasn't really looking for one and I hope she wasn't offended or maybe I'm in the wrong bathroom but in any case I should probably look around and apologize as the gasping gentleman seems, based upon his volume, to be quite certain there is a woman here, here in this room where I'm currently standing slapping at the soap dispenser to get it to work and maybe the lady knows hot to get the soap dispenser to work I should ask her yes I will ask the lady.
I turn and scan the room, but there's no one there except me. At this point, I think, That's even weirder as the gentleman who I am now going to have to turn to see momentarily claimed there was a woman in here when, in fact, there was only me and no one else and maybe the lady left and now the soap dispenser is working too much and...O.
When I turn I see two guys had just turned the corner, an older one who is staring at me in horror and a younger one who is trying not to laugh.
"O God, I'm sorry," the older guy says then looks like he wants to explain what, exactly, made him yell that I was a woman--presumably it was the flowing locks and killer blouse--but holds back.
"It's okay," I say, then think, I probably shouldn't tell anyone about this but what if they hear it from the old guy first, so, no, I'll tell everyone about this great.
I answered some questions for Midwestern Gothic here. Of course, that link includes a link right back here, so some of you are stuck in an endless Adam Peterson-loop while my cold, dead eyes look on disapprovingly. Or maybe it's not at all like that. I really don't know how you're spending your day.
In any case, it's a great journal and you should pick up a copy here.
One of the first stories I ever published is now online as part of the new Madison Review website. And from the same Spring 2008 issue you can also read a poem by Adam Day. Apparently we were journal buddies before we shared an office.
Adam is also an editor at Catch Up, a new journal of literature and comics. Check it out here.
Because you didn't ask.
* Perry was Perry. He's strong on the economic stuff where he's got his talking points down, but anyone watching through the end could see his obvious weaknesses on, well, everything else. He's just not good at speaking off the cuff and his best bet in the general is to achieve something like a Kerry-Bush dynamic and cast the president as an out-of-touch blowhard. Man, that's a steep hill as Obama isn’t Kerry and we’ve already had a Bush. So it remains: Perry is really, really bad when he leaves his comfort zone. His comfort zone, by the way, seems to exist between him and the coyote he's currently hunting in his mind.
* He’s got a huge problem with Social Security, by the way. Rather than back down from the ideas in his stupid, stupid book, he doubled down. Someone needs to work up the spine to tell the governor that the only problem people have with Social Security is that it might not be there. “Fixing” it is one thing, saying it shouldn’t exist is another. And by another I mean insanely unpopular.
* Most telling moment of the night was one that most probably didn't stick around for but will surely get a lot of play on the left: the crowd’s kneejerk cheering Perry's execution total. I wouldn't overreact to this--we could probably come up with some pretty terrible applause lines that would fly at a Democratic primary debate--but that there will be no rightwing repudiation of this is one of the things that has to have mainstream Republicans worried. I mean, where can you go from there? Unless the Republicans are willing to go full on The Running Man, you’ve got to think they’d rather this not be a party plank.
* And that’s really the underplayed narrative of their field (if it’s possible to have such a thing in this political climate). They aren’t just for killing 234 murderers—another terrible, out-of-date but not entirely unjustifiable position—they applaud it. Without prompting. In the middle of a sentence. Spoken by a journalist. We should recognize what they were really applauding was their support given what they suspected was going to be (something they would perceive as) a “gotcha” question. But that’s what makes this so problematic and the party’s prospects so dim as long as they pursue this path. Suspicion of the media. Suspicion of what are quickly becoming mainstream values. And, this is the problem, suspicion of anyone who would deviate from those values. Honestly, if they’d followed up that question by asking all the candidates, “Do any of you have a problem with governor Perry’s execution record?” would any have been brave enough to raise their hands? Of course not. But that’s not the bad part. The bad part would be if someone asked why the other governors hadn’t executed more.
Because here’s the thing: once you’re so paranoid that you can’t accept any deviation from a set of beliefs without it being a threat, you start to form a cult around those things you believe. Some tax cuts are good? Then all tax cuts are good. Government spending is bad? Then government shouldn’t spend on anything. Executions are good? Government should execute as many as possible.
And this, actually, isn’t that unusual of a position for the extremes of either party (though I think it’s a little more typical of rightwing thought whereas the left usually has some level of perceived [if not entirely real] nuance), it’s that this thought has somehow become the norm of the party in the last two cycles. It’s actually hard to overstate how impossible seeming this would be for modern Democrats. Imagine if Bernie Sanders suddenly got to dictate the terms of the debate the way Jim DeMint does? We' be thrilled right up until we started losing every election. Then we'd be less thrilled, I imagine.
Anyway, it’s fascinating here because of what it will mean for the general election. Conventional wisdom says these ideas can’t possibly win a national election, electoral college or no, economy or no. Conventional wisdom says these are fringe candidate ideas. And yet here we are cheering them before they can even be spoken.
* I’m writing this while playing online chess in a coffee shop. It’s amazing nobody has looked at my computer and punched me in the face.
* So, quick summary: any Republicans concerned with actually winning an election have to be moving to the Romney camp about now. He looked good and, to be honest, I was a little afraid of how he might match up with Obama given the president's considerable struggles. Which is not to say Republicans wouldn’t happily settle for Perry, just that those electability questions loom nearly as big for him as they once did for Bachmann.
O, god and I made a logo. I almost forgot about that. But I didn't. Instead I told everyone about it and posted it every time I got the opportunity. Otherwise, however, I totally forgot.
Round 1 - Chris Johnson, RB
I sort of wonder where he would have gone if I hadn't grabbed him at 6. I feel like people forgot that the reason he was downgraded was because he was holding out but that, now that he signed, there's really nothing wrong with him. Or maybe I'm forgetting something, like how he hasn't played at all this preseason and Tennessee is horrible and I should have just rolled the dice with Vick. Except there's this: we've spent the last two periods in my composition classroom discussing a couple of articles on Vick and, frankly, I hate him. I remember that.
I actually feel really good about Johnson here. Their QB situation is more stable (if not more fragile), and outside of injury, Johnson seems like as safe a bet to put up 1500+ yards as there is.
Round 2 - Larry Fitzgerald, WR
Let's all forget about who I grabbed in the second round of my last draft and try to focus on the fact that in this one, I got a guy who put up numbers even with Derek Anderson and Max Hall throwing him the ball. Fitzgerald is like Antonio Gates. You just like having him.
Really though, there wasn't much temptation to go in any other direction. Vick almost dropped all the way here which was a shock in a 12-team league and I would have picked him if he were insulting a puppy's mother in front of it while eating all of its rawhide cigars. I would have, really.
Round 3 - Matt Forte, RB
I've actually always had a weird soft spot for Forte, mostly because I don't really understand who he is or where he comes from or why he's good or what he likes to do on weekends. O, except put up yards. He's not a TD guy--not yet--but damn if he isn't productive. Bet you didn't know he's averaged 1500 yards rushing/receiving per year. I'll take it. The Bears' offensive line is horrible, but I don't really care. They were last year too. Felt really good about this pick. I like guys who nobody thinks about until they put up 20 points and confuse everyone.
Round 4 - Dez Bryant, WR
What we've learned here is that I will take Dez Bryant if given the opportunity. I think I actually wanted Brandon Marshall here, but my brother jumped on him. Or maybe I wanted him with the next pick. I can't remember.
The theme of this draft is memory: I only have it when it comes to dogs and not football or Matt Forte's hobbies.
Round 5 - Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Why do I always wait too long to take a QB and end up with this clown?
That's what I wrote two years ago when I waited too long and took that clown. This year, I feel a good about him, actually (that offense is explosive), but I still hate him as evidenced by my having never said one nice thing about him on this blog.
Round 6 - Jimmy Graham, TE
Tight ends were going fast and I (like everyone else) really love Jimmy Graham this year. I reached a little, but the other options weren't anything special. I loved him coming out of Miami, actually, and remained more than a little bummed the Dolphins couldn't find a way to get him.
I want one of two things out of my tightend position: consistency so I never have to think about it or extreme upside so it becomes exciting to check the box score. Thanks, Jimmy.
Round 7 - Joseph Addai, RB
This league plays with two flex spots and a short bench so Addai will almost certainly start for me until he gets hurt or Peyton Manning dies and the Colts fall apart. So the upside is...well, I'm not sure actually. He's a weird player. He's never been that good--and he's been bad the last three years--and yet he's still the starter and it's not inconceivable that if healthy he could be a really strong number three. I'm not counting on him or anything, but it would be nice if he proved to have one more average season in him.
Round 8 - Fred Jackson, RB
This is the perplexing thing about fantasy football generally (and this league specifically). Having Fred Jackson as your fourth running back and second flex really isn't terrible. In fact, I can imagine scenarios where people would be excited to have him as their third if the fourth were a boom or bust wide receiver. Jackson is a starter, always produces, catches passes, will get goal line carries, etc. And yet nobody wants him. Hell, I don't even want him. No team starting him can be that good.
It's strange, but I think I'd rather have him as my third best running back than my fourth. That would at least imply I had strength elsewhere. As is, he's just sort of there not being very good or very bad. I don't like it. You can't trust mediocrity. I want to cut him already which doesn't even make any sense.
Round 9 - Pierre Garcon, WR
Why not? O right, because I hated him last year.
Round 10 - Davone Bess, WR
I love Davone Bess. I hope he challenges Fred Jackson to a fight and only one comes back.
Fantasy football doesn't work that way, but I wish it did. The Cal Drogo play Fantasy Fantasy Football, and that's the way I like it.
Anyway, I weirdly might start Bess more than any of the three people picked in front of him because I like Dolphins and Bess is reliable. That's probably not smart, but smart isn't what got Ed Stark to where he is today.
Draft Grade: B. I thought about B-minus, but the more I look at this team the more I like it and might even go B-plus. Those first three picks are perfect, I feel like, and if Dez steps up (which, apparently, I really think is going to happen) and Pitt's offense is what it should be then I've got a really strong lineup of marque players. Down roster it's more 'take a walk' than it is 'hit or miss,' but that might not be a bad thing. Might not be a good thing either. Who knows. I honestly have forgotten who my tight end is. Is it Antonio Gates? God, I hope so.
Things, Promotional and Otherwise
* A friend of mine decided to move the party to Doha and is writing a phenomenal--and phenomenally titled--blog called It's Pronounced Qatar. Or maybe that's only phenomenal if you actually know how to pronounce Qatar which, it turns out, I didn't (it rhymes with "butter"). I'm considering his experience there practice for the upcoming World Cup. Also, pronouncing butter.
* Brief thoughts on the Obama speech kerfuffle: O Jesus Christ, really?
* The Cupboard needs you to like it. Harder. Please help us by liking our page here and telling your friends to do so, too. We're terrible about this stuff.
* Brief Dolphins thoughts: Vegas has them at 7.5 wins. I'd probably still bet the under (or at least that's the smart bet), but for some reason (likely the Orton debacle) people who don't know the team keep saying they'll be lucky to win 4. This makes no sense to me. I think Vegas is begging you to take the under not realizing the Dolphins are going to finish with a top-3 defense.
* NewPages wrote a really nice review of the new Camera Obscura which says such embarrassingly nice things about my story that I sort of want to punch them. I too love this journal, and everyone should. Subscribe, submit, spread the word.
* O, and there's this Mark Sanchez is not (yet) better than Chad Henne. Anyone who has the Jets winning the Super Bowl should probably be aware of that. Sorry. That was more Dolphins thoughts. I should have warned you.
* In more journal pimping news, a friend of mine started a new online journal called Owl Eye Review which is up and accepting submissions and watching you. The first issue is great, and I expect even greater things in the future. I mean, if we can trust owls which, I don't know, it might be time to.
* What I'm saying is, the Jets got worse this offseason, the Dolphins got slightly better. Don't get me wrong, the Jets are still a better team in all likelihood, by why are some people acting like 11 wins are a sure thing for the Jets while the Dolphins won't get 5? The following things are true: the Dolphins defense is better, Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne are a wash, and we're coming up on the time when Rex Ryan starts to get tuned out. Just saying. O, and that was about politics.
* Laura Eve and I have a [SPOILER ALERT] in the new DIAGRAM. This issue just launched so I haven't had much time to read through it, but I see names I know and trust. Plus, it's DIAGRAM. What could go wrong?
* Update: Since I first posted this, I read Bill Barnwell's NFL preview on Grantland.com which includes the smartest take on the Dolphins I've read yet in the national media. He nails the team's potential downfall while still realizing there's a lot of talent on the team.