Thursday, July 27, 2017

Friday Fragments

A few days ago, a reader wrote to ask about how professors police cheating during in-class exams, now that smartphones are pretty much ubiquitous.  

Wise and worldly readers who teach, how have you adapted in-class exams for the age of the smartphone?


Actual in-car conversation, having just picked up The Girl and some of her friends from a party:

Friend 1: She’s such a Veronica!

TG: She’s more of a Heather, I think.

(antennae up)

(drop off the other girls)

Me: What was that?

TG: Oh, they’re talking about this musical called “Heathers.”  I think it’s based on a movie.  Have you heard of it?

(mind reels)


TG: That’s what (friend)’s Dad says, too!

It’s good to see the classics get their due.  Generation X’s mark on the culture may have been fleeting, but I’ll happily own this one.  Neither Winona Ryder nor Christian Slater was ever quite that good again.


“When you have an area that just isn’t working like Upper New York State…” - Donald Trump


In an interview this week, Donald Trump advised residents of “upper” New York to move to Wisconsin.

A few thoughts.

First, nobody there calls it “upper” New York State.  It’s Western New York, or, in some cases, Upstate.  As a lifetime resident of New York City, I would have expected him to know that.  But that’s a minor point.

The President of the United States is writing off regions of the US with millions of people in them?

Um, not okay.

In Western New York, where I grew up, there’s a chronic sense of being in the shadow of New York City.  NYC dominates state politics, and it dominates the state’s national image.  When I got to college and people asked me where I was from, I learned quickly that if I just answered “New York” they’d assume I meant The City.  When I mentioned Rochester, a classmate asked me which subway line it was on.  Rochester is farther from NYC than Washington, DC is.

The rule is that you’re only allowed to criticize it if you’re from there.  If you haven’t personally washed down a white hot with a Genny Cream, or you have no idea what a Garbage Plate is, I don’t want to hear it.

Those of us who grew up there and moved away -- some of whom even work at IHE -- have complicated feelings about the place.  But we earned those.  And they’re based on knowing what we’re talking about.

It’s a new era, I know that, but I’m still put off by national political figures trashing states they didn’t win.  That’s not what a _national_ figure is supposed to do.  I don’t recall the presidents Bush trashing Massachusetts, or Obama trashing Alabama.  The Clintons liked Upstate so much that they moved there (sort of).  

Early next week I’ll be in Nashville for a conference.  I intend to go the entire time without indulging in any regional stereotyping.  Anytime Mr. Trump would care to learn from my example, I’d welcome it.  Besides, he doesn’t seem like someone who would turn down a Garbage Plate.