Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday morning things

* Woke early today after a rare event (a pleasant dream I remember: I was in something kind of like a small amusement park, only it was devoted to gashopon/blindbag type toys. There were all kinds of vending machines everywhere....I woke immediately after buying from one that would give you a (randomly-dressed) small stuffed toy , of Paddington Bear. My dreams are sometimes oddly specific but I will take one that's simply about doing something I would find fun)

* One of those frustrating news stories: a young woman a couple towns over claimed she'd been kidnapped and raped but there were some questions about what she said (I don't know what happened with the so-called "rape kit" - whether it was refused or whether it didn't turn up anything). But yesterday she confessed she made the story up completely - no kidnapping, no rape.

This is bad. This kind of thing is bad. For one thing, apparently lots of people were spreading the rumor that there was a "criminal gang" doing this, which made my BS detector go off, because, if that's the case, where are all the victims? Yes, I get that some women are afraid to report rape, but....there were no reports of disappearances. And frankly, a bunch of random kidnappings? That would be big news here.

The other bad thing about it is that it's damaged community relations in the town - the fake victim is white and claimed her attackers were black.

This kind of thing boggles my mind a little bit: did you really think you'd get away with it? (I still wonder about the so-called "rape kit"). And why do it? I suppose it maybe could have been an attention-seeking thing and that frustrates me because to be honest? I want attention some times but I'd never dream of doing something like that to get it....

Also, makes me wonder how many actual crimes got short shrift because the cops were having to investigate this one.

And the woman had a fiancé, who is now her ex-. (I don't blame him).

And add to this: still, in some places, when a woman comes forward saying she's been raped, she gets put through the mill - some people don't believe her, some people pull out the old "how were you dressed, did you 'ask' for it," that kind of junk. So someone making a false claim doesn't help her "sisters" out one bit. 

I dunno. File this one under "people frustrate me"

* Having bad tinnitus this morning. I don't know if it's because I MIGHT have forgot to take my blood-pressure medication last night (I could not remember for sure and didn't want to risk taking a second dose) or if it's allergies or if I need to go in and have my ears looked at. It's unpleasant.

* Random thought, related to a Tweet I read (from "Academic Pain") referencing the "gig economy," the idea of "working oneself to death," and similar:

Could the meme, in academia, of "I work an 80 hour week," be a knee-jerk reaction to the image some folks out in the rest of the world have of us as slackers? I STILL hear of legislators talking about how our workloads need to be increased again by half and the like, because we're not "earning our pay." And I wonder if the "I worked 80 hours last week" is a circling-the-wagons measure designed to make us look busier than we actually are, to combat the image some have that we're way LESS busy than we actually are."

(I doubt I've ever worked an 80 hour week. There have been a few weeks where I pulled 3, 14-hour days in a row, but that was highly unusual and resulted because I was serving on a search committee that had to have a very short turnaround time. And I've put in long strings of 10-hour days - excepting Sundays; I will not work Sundays - and that gets woeful after a while. I think in an average week I probably work about 50 hours; in an extreme week I have worked 60)

But yeah. All of it needs to stop. It won't, though - some pundits and politicians will continue to harp that we're "lazy," some professors will continue with the 80-hour-week tales of woe.

(And yes: there are also people who want to "Uberize" education, which I think is a terrible idea, not so much because of the "death from overwork" but because you'll get a lower quality product from people who have no job security, which is essentially what uberizing means here. It will emphasize "customer satisfaction" at all costs, so even if it means telling someone who has NO grasp of a topic that they're doing fine, that will happen)

* also this A short film called Professor
(It's on Vimeo so I am not sure how, if I can, to embed).
I found that viscerally uncomfortable.

On the one hand: I've never quite been there, not that burned out.
On the other hand: I've had students like the woman in the video. I never know what to do. In some cases I can kind of shrug it off - the person who claimed I had "ruined their life" and now they wouldn't get into pharmacy school because I didn't "give" them an A (when it turned out they skipped five of the labs). In other cases, where there's genuine distress, I don't know what to do. I've never had anyone say "I will have to leave school, I will lose my financial aid" but wow, is that a load of guilt to lay on a prof. (Then again: my field is more objective than literature and I can point to exam performances and say, "No, I'm sorry, but you aren't showing mastery of the subject, you are still earning a D" or "No, you have done precisely none of the labs, that's an F")

But yeah. That's one of the "invisible" things about my job that the people calling me "lazy" don't understand - the sheer agony of dealing with people with those kinds of problems, the whole thing that you're supposedly an authority but really what you have is a lot of responsibility and you do tend to get people asking all the time for rules to be bent....

That said: I'd never just change an F to a C. I don't know what I'd do in that woman's case. Perhaps try to work out some plan for her to make up the work? Though if it's two days from the day grades are due in, that wouldn't work. This is why I tell students to come in AS SOON AS there is a problem. They don't always do that....

(I did give a student an extension on the paper due today - he's normally a pretty responsible student but caught the flu earlier and was out for a week, and he was complaining in lab how his English prof was being completely hardnosed about the assignments and wasn't allowing him any sort of extension even though he was sick....and then he asked me how many points a late paper in MY class would lose, so I just sighed and offered an extension until Monday. I figure if nothing else, I'll get a better paper and I don't have the discomfort of having to take points off.)

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