Friday, June 6, 2014

Close to Home

The instant that Aaron Ybarra's face flashed across the television screen, I recognized him.  I'd seen this young man dozens of time, passing him in the corridor at the college where I teach and he studied.  His family live in the same suburban neighborhood that I do. He always looked like a nice enough kid, perhaps a bit more unkempt than average.  I never spoke with him, but we exchanged friendly smiles at least once.

Apparently he'd had a history with the local police for minor, non-violent offenses and been taken to the local hospital for "evaluation," but there seemed no reason to believe he was a potential danger to himself or others.

Chatting about the case in the elevator with another teacher, I remarked (not for the first time) that maybe we needed to think about locking our classrooms while teaching.  An instructor from another department jumped in, told me to "chill out" and said something to the effect that I was fear-mongering.  Then she flounced off, her sandals slapping the floor as she strode down the hall.  I was a bit stung by her response.  

I'll admit I can be something of a "nervous nellie."  Perhaps I do suffer from a degree of PTSD, having, years ago in Teheran, experienced shots being aimed in my direction and seen slogans painted in blood on my garden wall.  Blithely turning a corner to find oneself facing the business end of a row of firing rifles leaves a person with a certain degree of hyper-vigilance, and an enduring awareness that awful things can happen most randomly.

Of course the possibility of being caught in an event like the shootings yesterday is scary, however remote the statistical probability.  Some people like me respond by anxiously pre-calculating how to reduce the odds; some people respond with angry denial. Meanwhile, the official administrative recommendations (to run away if possible, hide if escape is not possible, and fight if cornered) are so obvious that they hardly justify communicating.  

Not to mention that they seem to ignore the fact that the only reason that the shooter's tally wasn't greater was because at least one person on the scene did not follow the "official guidelines," but instead risked his own life by overpowering Ybarra, wrestling him to the ground, and subduing him with pepper spray until police arrived.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Judgy Bitch Needs You!

Since Sunshine Mary has been run off the internet -- at least for the moment -- Janet Bloomfield AKA Judgy Bitch is the clear runner up for the title of First Lady of the Manosphere.  She is the MRA version of Ann Coulter: blonde, outrageous, racist, and as dumb as a box of rocks (but a whole lot louder).

Here she is, in her position of Social Media Director (!) of AVfM's upcoming conference in Detroit, raising funds for the additional security she claims Doubletree Inn has demanded as a result of "feminist threats." The jury is still out as to whether the letter from Doubletree that she produces is genuine, but many are inclined to believe it is a fraud designed to extract more money from deluded MRM supporters to line the pockets of Paul Elam and his curious cabinet.

I haven't seen any credible evidence of "death threats" although obviously if there were any I would want the authorities to investigate them seriously. Trust me, the last thing I want is for some MRA to enjoy martyrdom at the hands of a non-MRA.

But do "feminists" want to "silence" the MRM? 

On one hand, I'll admit I DO silence Janet Bloomfield in the sense that after about fifteen seconds of her snarky, grating, affected delivery I have to turn the audio off. I can't watch Typhonblue for a different reason, one which I will not disclose for fear of being accused of being an "ableist" (sorry, I'm a very imperfect feminist).

I don't want to silence the MRM. I want to criticize them, mock them, and expose them for the assholes and aberrations they generally are. 

And speaking strictly for myself, I welcome all the attention MRM is getting from the mainstream media. For over a year I've been running around like Chicken Little warning people about these loonies, but I'm afraid they thought I was just a bit demented myself for paying them any mind. The bigger the platform these people get, the better: the more their cracked ideology is exposed to the general public, the more quickly and decisively their "human rights movement" is revealed for what it is. It won't be radical feminists who bring down the MRM. Exposed to the strong sunlight of mainstream attention, they will melt down on their own.

Another Day, Another Life Ruined

It's that time of the year again, when students stir from their somnolent states, look up from their smart phones for a moment, squint into the sun streaming through the classroom windows, and realize, Crap! In two weeks I'm gonna get a grade in this class!  Then they converge en masse to demand I accept two month old homework assignments, administer make up quizzes in my office (strictly at their convenience), and understand once and for all that I am all that is standing between them and a first class ticket to the pharmacology (or MBA) program of their (parents') choice.

It's the storm before the calm, you might say.

Every day I pass similarly beleaguered instructors in the hall, and we mouth to one another, It's almost over. Yet the two weeks (or is it just ten days?) before finals week stretches endlessly before us, filled as it is with tedious end-of-academic year meetings and protocols and six inch stacks of papers to be marked, the grinding monotony punctuated only by the pleas of frenzied or despairing students whose brilliant future careers we have dedicated our own to ruining.

Today a student worked himself (and me) into near hysteria because he had checked his scores (conveniently posted online throughout the quarter just to avoid such last minute "surprises") and was shocked, shocked to find he was averaging 77% on all his classwork.

"Don't fret," I assured him. "Remember, I will drop your lowest quiz and your lowest writing assignment before I calculate your final grades. I expect you'll wind up with a B- in the class."

A B-? He almost erupted into tears. Didn't I see that was not nearly good enough? He had to have a 4.0 in all his classes.

Don't be ridiculous, I responded. Where was he planning to apply, Harvard?

Well, as a matter of fact...

Listen, I argued. I myself was an entirely mediocre student as an undergrad. Despite my underwhelming 3.3 GPA, I had managed to get into not one, but two, very well-regarded graduate programs. He was clearly unimpressed with my experience, and who could blame him? I mean, look where I had ended up.

At this point, I felt compelled to remind the student that not only had he failed to participate in class (being, like many of his back-row peers, hopelessly addicted to his smart phone), he hadn't done a lick of homework outside class either, which, although it counted little toward his grade, helped explain his consistently poor performance on the quizzes.

"Yeah, and now I guess I'll have to do the homework," the student conceded resentfully. "I'll need every point I can get."

Guess again, buddy. "I'm not taking late homework the last two weeks of class," I said firmly. Fifteen years of teaching community college had taught me to draw the line somewhere.

I did agree to let him revise one of his assignments and re-take one of the quizzes, mentally calculating the benefits of feeling magnanimous against the cost of the extra time it would take.

You're an engineering major, I said: They only care about your grades in math. I wasn't entirely sure that was true, but I did know a large number of engineers and high-tech professionals who couldn't (and still can't) write their way out of a paper bag.  If society required STEM majors to excel at English composition, advances in technology would grind to a stand-still.  Then where would we be?

Without smart phones, for sure.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Howdy Neighbor!

I don't know why it surprises me, but somehow it does: Seattle has its own burgeoning Men's Rights Movement chapter! Apparently this blogger has taken a leaf from the activism book of A Voice For Men by plastering Capitol Hill (a hip downtown area favored by the young and gender variant) with crappy photocopied posters. Several posters were promptly torn down by a lurking feminist, prompting our hero to solicit suggestions for better glue. All in all, it was a glorious and well-documented adventure as the intrepid lads braved the "lion's den" of tattoo/piercing studios, sex toy boutiques, gay bars and music clubs.

I can't help but suspect this MRA must feel as lonesome and alienated from his surroundings as Matt Forney did when he spent a couple of months in Portland last year.  

I don't know why it surprises me, really.  After all, I only live a few miles from Bill Price of The Spearhead.  

Emma Howland-Bolton Slandered

Courtesy of mancheez, I learn of a young teacher named Emma Howland-Bolton who has been targeted for harassment and slander by Paul Elam and his goon squad at A Voice for Men.  Her "crime?" Encouraging others to protest the "First Annual Conference on Men's Issues" at the Doubletree Inn in Emma's home city of Detroit. 

I don't know Emma personally, but from what I can glean she is an elementary school teacher who is locally recognized for passion and excellence in the classroom, and who has hitherto spoken out against the closing of public libraries in her area.  She apparently does not want to see her city host a hate group featuring such "Red Pill" luminaries as Stefan Molyneux, and has lightly mocked them on Facebook.  Yes, folks, that's all it takes: make a few innocuous remarks criticizing the notoriously misogynistic "Men's Rights Movement" on Facebook and you too can expect a campaign immediately mounted to smear your name online and harass your employer with phone calls from anonymous loonies.  Note that Men's Rights Activists can only plant their slimy posts on the first page of Google results if their victim's "presence" online is limited (which is to say, she is an ordinary, private citizen).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Speakers

For some reason, I have been living without decent computer speakers. I have good headphones for my IPod, but I only use them when I'm out in public and don't mind appearing anti-social.  It seems silly to put them on when I'm in my own house, not to mention I dislike being tethered to my computer.

I've just been listening to the most godawful tinny quality of sound for years without realizing how much I was missing.  The other day my girlfriend insisted I buy a pair of nice little Bose speakers.  I plugged them in and it was like listening to all my favorite artists for the first time.

I've been on a binge re-familiarizing myself with my own ITunes Library, especially the songs of Gillian Welch.  

The Mask You Live In

Has anyone seen "The Mask You Live In?"  It's not available on Netflix yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to watching it when I get the chance.  (Christina Hoff Sommers didn't like it much, BTW; here's a link to her Time review although without even seeing the documentary, it's pretty clear she deliberately missed its point.)  It's made by the same directors as Miss Representation (which I highly recommend if you haven't already seen it).  Speaking of Ms. Sommers, I also recommend mancheeze's post on her relationship with AVfM.