Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday miscellany

  1. My friend Jason’s Facebook status update sums it all up for me: “Jason is boggled that even as our laissez-faire partisan neighbours to the south managed a recovery package in days, all our morons managed was a time-out. With pay.” At a moment like this, it strikes me that doing nothing is about the worst thing a government can do. Even an election would be preferable. Not very, but still.

  2. Everything I have predicted about the course of events since the coalition became a gleam in the Opposition’s eye has been wrong. I was thinking I should just stop prognosticating, but when the G-G gave Harper permission to dissolve Parliament, I came to the conclusion that I simply don’t possess an irrational enough mind to see into the crystal ball of our federal politics.

  3. In happier news, the semester is over and I will be winging home to Ontario in slightly less than two weeks. This was a good semester, and after the perfect storm that was my fall term last year, it felt like a walk in the park. I actually managed to get some of my own writing done, which felt so decadent that I had to remind myself that that’s technically 40% of my job description—40% research, 40% teaching, 20% administration. The problem was that this time last year the math was more like 40% research, 40% teaching, 60% administration. Which is what happens when you leave the math to English professors.

  4. Forty-six days of Bush's presidency left.

  5. It occurred to me recently that I came roaring back to my blog after a two-month absence largely on my obsession with the American election. And now I’ve been going on about Canadian politics. Not wanting to turn this into an exclusively political blog, I shall do my best to reinsert more literary and personal stuff (i.e. things I actually know something about). That being said, this essay is one of the smartest things I’ve read since Obama’s election, and articulates some of the things I’ve thought way better than I ever could.

  6. Teaching this term was a joy. I had two classes, my standard 20th-century U.S. fiction, and a fourth-year seminar on American Lit after 1945. In both cases, I decided to mix things up a bit by giving each course a specific theme rather than just doing a typical survey. In the case of the former, I decided to take advantage of Obama’s candidacy and focus on novels dealing with issues of race and identity; in the latter, we looked at post-9/11 fiction. The 9/11 course, while interesting, was a bit tougher—because, as it turns out, most novels written about September 11th really suck. At the same time however, we did Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is an utterly fantastic read and helped balance out stinkers like John Updike’s Terrorist. In both classes, though, I had some amazing students … which really is the rule rather than the exception here. I am consistently impressed and often blown away by the students I have; it’s quite the privilege.

  7. Speaking of, my student Emily introduced me to the genius that is the comedy of Dylan Moran, who you may remember as the irritating David in Shaun of the Dead. His stand-up is brilliant: the following clip in which he expounds on the nature of Irish vs. English sensibilities, and Protestant vs. Catholic had me laughing so hard I was close to asphyxiating myself:

No comments: