Kicking Ass and Grading Tests

The second wave of tests is upon us at TUL, and boy howdy are there a lot of them. By the end of the day tomorrow I will have approximately 125 tests to grade by next week. By the end of the day on Thursday, I will not only have approx 125 tests to grade, but I will also have somewhere in the vicinity of 40 cause and effect essays to read. It’s a lot of work, and it is very time consuming.
Grading the tests is easy…just follow the key, but even on the tests there is room for interpretation, especially when the students have to actually write something, and not just choose A B C D, or some other combination of multiple choice letters because there is a good chance that the student will supply a correct answer, but one that is not in the key. This attention to detail and deciding whether or not an answer is acceptable slows the process down even further.

I want to make it clear that I am not complaining. Giving and grading tests is part of the job. I know that and I accept that. I am merely commenting on the fact that it takes time to get through them all. It takes a lot of time. Just like they say in the song.

Of course, I mean, it’s like what they say in the song figuratively. Because I got my mind set on correcting the tests and being as accurate as possible in doing so, while also being aware that there are other, possible answers beyond just what is in the key. And it takes a whole lot of time. I guess it takes money, but only because time is money, or if you wanted a real monetary cost then I suppose you could count the cost of printing the tests in the first place. That takes a lot of time AND money. So, knowing it would take up a lot of hours and eat heavily into my relaxation time I got proactive on those punk tests.

I gave two tests yesterday. During the first test I read from this book and monitored the students to make sure they weren’t cheating. During the next class, and the next test, I corrected the previous class’ tests and monitored for cheating. In the hour and half I was not able to correct all 25 tests from my first class, but I got darn close. Within three or four, I think.

Then I had office hours, so I finished correcting the three or four that I had not corrected, and started in on the second batch of tests. Well, those were almost completely graded yesterday, and I finished them this morning during the third test of the week.

What all this means is simply that I have already graded about 42 of the 125 or so tests that I will be facing, and since there are more tests tomorrow, I will have a chance to knock out somewhere between 30 and 55 more tests, leaving me in the manageable range of 25 give or take a couple.

So the point is, I have been kicking the hell out of these tests, and my students having been doing too bad either. The tests are difficult and long, but they are hanging in there.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this randomness.

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Thank you Agent Stahl

or should I say Ally Walker, the woman who plays Agent Stahl on Sons of Anarchy. I thank Ms. Walker because people have (if my bog hits are to be believed) been searching for her. Out of 68 (so close to 69, bah!) hits on the blog, 55 of them were this post. People are searching for Ally Walker, and the only feasible reason that comes to my current or modern pop culture deprived mind is that the sudden increase in interest is due to her Lady Macbeth of a character on the show.

So, thank you Agent Stahl. Thank you Ally Walker. And thank you, SAMCRO.

Cowards

According to the huffingtonpost some Democrats, including Carl Levin–the top Dem on the Senate Arms Service committee, are getting ready to ignore not only top military personnel but also the majority of the American people, are planning on stripping the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” policy. For those who have been living under a rock or in outer space, DADT is the law that prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military. Gays are not banned from U.S. military service, that is unless they talk about their sexual orientation, and then they are discharged from service, no matter what their achievements, decorations, and skills are. It is an unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional law. It effectively takes the first amendment away from anyone in military service, whether they are gay or not. And to deny this most fundamental right to our soldiers–the very people we use to fight for American values and rights–is ludicrous and un-American. It is akin to drafting kids to fight a war, but not allowing them to vote.

The question of how DADT came to pass is not really at issue, and it is explainable in one easy word: homophobia. There is no other explanation for how this draconian policy came into being. Sure, there are those who argue that soldiers need to be able to trust one another, be able to feel comfortable around each other, to focus on the mission at hand and not be distracted by the appearance or behavior of their squad mates, but all these arguments are bullshit and boil down to the same thing: HOMOPHOBIA. Soldiers are soldiers are soldiers. There is no difference in fighting effectiveness between a gay soldier and a straight soldier. Our service men and women are not in the military to explore romantic issues, they are there to do their duty to America. Gay, straight, or bi-sexual, it does not matter. What matters is simply that they do their job well and that they are offered the same rights and protections provided that the constitution provides to those our soldiers have sworn to fight for and protect.

So the question isn’t how DADT came to pass is a non-issue now. “How could this happen?” was a question that had relevance when the policy was drafted in 1993, but now 17 years later, the question of how is not important. The question that is important, however, is “why do we still have this archaic law?” Unfortunately the answer is still HOMOPHOBIA. The only difference now is that United States citizens are coming to grips with the fact that Homosexuals exist, and they are no more or less evil or immoral than anyone else. The problem is that a controlling minority wields the power here, and have been more than happy to maintain the status quo of the illegal and unconstitutional DADT policy–just look at Levine.

How is it possible that Democrats and Republicans can ignore the will of the majority of the American people and consider striking down the repeal of DADT–the same repeal that allowed Dan Choi to re-enlist in the army after he was discharged for revealing and discussing his sexual orientation? I honestly don’t know. I have no answer, and I sorely wish I did. I guess I could go the cynical route and say it’s just playing politics and neither side wants to hold the potential hot potato that is DADT, but I don’t believe that. With so many military leaders and citizens in favor of repealing this heinous law it seems like bad politics not keep the repeal. So if it isn’t politics, what is it? Again, I have no idea, though I truly wish I did.

Still, there might be some light at the end of this tunnel after all. The White House opposes repealing the repeal, which could be good news not only for the cause, but also for the men and women in uniform who would rather have relations with someone of the same-sex than with someone of the opposite sex. The question remains, though, just how willing will the White House be to get involved in this fight? And, if they do get involved, how effective will they be? Will they help the cause more than harm it? My initial reaction is of course they will help it more than they will hurt it, but then I remember that this White House has spent most of its focus on trying to compromise and have a discussion, rather than exerting its executive privilege and power to influence outcomes. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that ObamaCo has been trying to start a discussion with those across the aisle from him, but when the other side isn’t listening, talking does no good, and when that happens the only thing left to do is take action.

If the White House truly wants to send the message that it heard the American people last week, then doing everything it can to permanently repeal DADT is a good place to start. It should be an easy battle to win, and with the majority of the voting public supporting it there is very little chance of a backlash from the American people. But, as the title of this post indicates, the Dems are cowards and will probably somehow let this golden opportunity pass them by so as to avoid anything controversial because there is someone, somewhere, out there who will say that if we let gays serve openly in the military things like this will happen:

(And for the record, I know Klinger isn’t gay.)

Of course, then in 2012 the Republicans can co-opt the idea of repealing DADT, repeal it and reap the rewards, even though it has mostly been the Dems fighting to get rid of this antediluvian policy. But, they are cowards so they probably will not fight against the repealing of the repeal, no matter what bluster comes from the White House, thereby not only screwing over their constituents once again, but also America’s fighting men women.

Songs or Unrulytravller’s 400th Post

I’m having a hard time not listening the hell out of these songs. They’re just so beautiful and melancholic. I can’t get enough of them.

And here quite possibly the most depressing song ever. It is not one I can listen to often, but once in a while it deserves to be heard.

And now we need some happy music and videos, so to fill that need I present these:

And speaking of douchebags–Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham has a hard-on for blowing the shit out of Iran to keep them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
It’s not surprising that he would say this. He is a Republican after all, (and this is something they have been playing with for a while) and they did just take back the House of Representatives, and it is true that a nuclear armed Iran is a scary thought, but starting another military action is not the answer. The U.S. doesn’t have the resources, the stamina, or the will to get involved in another war, even if it is strictly a war where we attack from the air. And to his comment where “He says they should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government,” isn’t that very similar to the philosophy we heard about the Iraq war? And how did that turn out? Not so well.
Yes it’s true that if the people of Iran rose up and toppled their crackpot leader, the government leadership that replaced him would probably be less batshit insane (but that’s a no-brainer, like saying fresh milk tastes better than rotten milk), but there is no guarantee of that. Plus, an attack on Iran, aside from depleting our resources even more than they already are, would only encourage anti-American resentment and portray us as even more of an Imperialistic state in the world arena than we already are. Nuclear weapons should be kept out of the hands of crazy assholes (i.e. EVERYBODY because we are all crazy assholes at times), but it is not the end of the world if some crazy asshole gets one. If you need proof, just look at North Korea. They have nuclear weapon technology and the world hasn’t ended yet.
One argument about why we should worry if Iran gets a nuclear weapon is that they could then give it to al-Qaeda or another one of the U.S.’s enemies so that they could use it against us. Yes, this is something to worry about. The threat of nuclear destruction is real (it has happened twice in the world, and both times the United States perpetuated said destruction), but any state found to have given a terrorist organization a nuclear weapon would surely feel itself facing off against the rest of the world. No one wants to see a nuclear bomb go off, even, I’d be willing to wager, terrorists–no matter what they say.
What is also distressing is that President Obama has said that “all options are on the table” concerning Iran, which means that he is at least open to the possibility attacking Iran, which would be a terrible idea for several reasons.

Please, members of Congress and President Obama, learn from your mistakes concerning Iraq and Afghanistan and leave Iran alone. How many more young Americans have to die in war before we realize that while it is not good for a state like Iran (or really any state for that matter) to have nuclear weapons, it is not, as Graham and others like him would have us believe, the end of the world. Nor will it even lead to it.

LEAVE IRAN ALONE, please.

NANOWRIMO Update and a political rant

So here I am posting on the blog when I should be doing something else. Like what? you ask. Well, like grading the 50 (out of 101) tests I have yet to grade, and which should be graded by tomorrow, but that’s just not going to happen. This will probably result in a violent and bloody revolt from my students, and the only thing that will keep them from taking my head and putting it on a spike is the fact that if they did that they wouldn’t get their results at all. So they will have to wait another week–bringing the grand total of how much time they have had to wait to three weeks, which in my opinion is not an unreasonable length of time to wait for test results, but then students are not always known for their reasonableness. Or if not grading papers, I could be working on finishing reading/editing a paper for a colleague that absolutely has to be done by tomorrow (it’s only twenty pages, but I also only got it on Friday). Or the third and final option is I could get back to work on my NANOWRIMO effort. Thus far I have 3,383 words of the 50,000 I need by the end of this month. Right now I am not even on track with the suggested word count. Oh well, I’ll just have to find some time, buckle down, and get to it.
And now onto the rant.

As you know, the United States had its mid-term election on Tuesday and the American people brought the republicans back. This is not necessarily shocking, but it is stunning. Sure, there is a lot of anger toward and distrust of the government right now (and leading up to the election) but it seems a tad bit asinine to re-elect a lot of the same people who helped orchestrate the current mess the country is in. True, all the blame cannot be placed upon the Republicans–the Democrats failed too, they didn’t show their spines and they buckled as they so often do under the unified front of the Republican party. Already we are seeing strong words and posturing from the GOP and its allies (though, in a refreshing note, the Tea Party has called out the Repubs at least a little bit).
On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority leader from Kentucky, said something to the effect that if the Republicans hope to accomplish anything, they will have to wait until the 2012 elections, and then only if Obama does not get re-elected. That’s right, the GOP now has a majority in the House of Representatives and they picked up seats in the Senate (and they’ve pretty much been calling the shots for the past two years with their mantra of No), but they are still powerless because of Obama.
And now Eric Cantor has come out in opposition to compromising with the Obama administration, unless of course, Obama compromises 100%. Well, Eric, a 100% compromise, is not a compromise. It is a victory for one side and a defeat for the other. The word compromise is defined thusly:

a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.

See the key words there, an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims. This means, that in order for something to be considered a compromise, both sides must be willing to give things up and move toward the middle, where hopefully a solution can be found. I know, it seems simple, and something that even a five-year old can grasp, but apparently Eric Cantor, a (supposedly) well-educated man doesn’t seem to grasp that simple concept.
He too is into the blame Obama game, as you will have read in that article, if you decided to click on the link at all. If you didn’t he says,

that any lack of progress in Congress — including a possible government shutdown — will be Obama’s fault.

“I would say, Chris, it’s as much as his responsibility,” said Cantor in response to a question from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about who will be to blame for a government shutdown or a default on the debt. “In fact, he is the one who sets the agenda as the chief executive and as the president of this country.”

Sure, Obama gets to set the agenda, and as the President of the United States of America he does have a lot of power, and if there were any correlation to setting the agenda and actually pushing that agenda through Cantor would have a point. However, it has become pretty clear that just because a President can set and agenda, it does not mean that the agenda will be realized. Apparently, and everyone forgot to tell the Democrats this, only a Republican president can set and pursue his agenda without listening to anyone because Obama sure as hell hasn’t been able to do most of what he wants to, thanks in large to the party of no’s obstructionism.
I do agree that Obama is part of the government and as such he does deserve some accountability, but not as much as the rest of the government. He is one man. Sure, he’s the president, but he’s still just one man, and he will need the help of both Democrats and Republicans (and independents and Tea Partiers) if the U.S. is going to get out of the hole BushCo finished digging for it.

Am I surprised that the GOP is taking such a hard-line stance and behaving like a party of spoiled brats who will cry and scream and flay their arms and legs about until they get their way? No, that is how they have been behaving since Obama was elected, and there is no reason to expect it to stop now. Am I disappointed that they are still behaving in such a way? Yes, very much so. It’s not that I was hoping that they would suddenly start playing nice once they won back the House (I knew that was too much to ask), but I was hoping that they would actually get down to the business of governing rather than just repeating the “It’s all Obama’s fault (as if the GOP is somehow separate from the political process and the act of governing their constituents) and if he wants to get anything done he will have to cave to our every demand, but we don’t have to give up shit” refrain we have been hearing from them for what seems like forever.
The silver lining to their attitude, though, is that if they continue to blame Obama without presenting any new or real ideas to help fix the problems facing the U.S. they won’t be there much longer, and maybe the next Congress (either Republican or Democrat) will finally start focusing on their job, governing the people, and not just politicking for them.
Is that too much to ask? Probably, but I ask anyway.