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Culture Headspace People

Apathy

A friend remarked over dinner that, if we were in London (his home town), power outages such as those experienced in Cape Town of late would result in marches and the like. This may be true, and I can’t help wondering if my feeling that there would simply be no point in marching is a) true or b) an indication that he’s highlighting a deep-seated apathy that Capetonians (maybe South Africans) are prone to.

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General

Examples: emails from students

For those who want some context with regard to this post:

    Exhibit A

“I WAS UNABLE TO ACCESS ANY OF MY E-MAILS. BUT MY MARK RECORDS ARE INCORRECT BECAUSE I HAV HANDED IN MY BIG ESSAY 2.THE TUTOR(xxxxx xxxxx) SAID THAT SHE HAS HANDED ALL RESULTS IN BUT THEY DO NOT REFLECT ON THE BOARD. PLEASE WOULD YOU CORRECT THE ERROR.”

Categories
Academia and teaching

Emails from students

The New York Times carried this article discussing student emails to their professors, which has been generating subtantial debate on academia-themed blogs (for example, here, and here). All the posts so far are from campuses in the US and Canada, where I’d imagine it rare to teach around 2000 students per year, as I do.

Categories
Culture

Whisky as ritual

Say what you will about wine, beer or any cocktail; there are times when whisky – and only whisky – is right. For starters, whisky has always been good for conversation. Mignon McLaughlin (in The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960) said “we come late, if at all, to wine and philosophy: whiskey and action are easier”, but he was wrong.

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Academia and teaching People

Classroom politics

Whether students like it or not, one of the things I aim for in my classrooms is to break down the (usually artificial) divide between academia and everyday life. It’s made somewhat easier by the fact that the sort of things I teach are easily applicable to non-academic activities.

Categories
Politics

Local elections

If you’re a South African who is eligible to vote (and have an ID book, unlike one Resistentialist I know), then you may be interested in this analysis of how much your vote could matter. The Cape Town race is one that’s too close to call, as is often the case.

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Academia and teaching Culture

Plagiarism #3

Having spent the past few hours re-reading all the correspondence generated by Watson’s article, and the article itself, I still found myself mostly underwhelmed and unconvinced by Watson’s bile (except for the Hughes connections, which Krog hasn’t explained satisfactorily). Cogent argumentation, rather than rhetoric, should win arguments. So let’s look at the argument…

Categories
Academia and teaching

The darkening…

Subscribers to PoetryWeb have been debating the Krog/Watson thing too, in case you want more. I’ve had great difficulty following the debate, not only due to an irregular power supply to the campus, but also because power has, of late, not necessarily meant it’s been worth turning your PC on. To try and preserve our server disks and other hardware in the face of unannounced power outages, the IT folks have sensibly decided to shut the network down till Monday. The fact that this decision is sensible should not be interpreted to mean that I’m not irritated by it…

Categories
Academia and teaching Culture

Plagiarism #2

My previous post on Stephen Watson’s allegations of plagiarism, levelled at Antjie Krog, comes down on Watson’s side. Subsequent to that post, Krog, her publishers, and Eve Gray have responded to the allegations. Having read these responses – particularly those of Krog and Gray – it becomes clear that I posted in haste, largely driven by a historical respect for Watson, a dislike for Krog’s Country of My Skull, and my own daily battles against plagiarists in my classrooms.

I no longer believe there to be any merit to Watson’s charges, and am now far more interested in the question of why he felt it necessary to be so hostile and disingenuous in his treatment of what appears to be a non-issue. Could it be as simple a thing as jealousy, given his relative obscurity of late?

Categories
Academia and teaching

The University, Inc.

On Monday next week, the new academic year at my University will begin – and I’m wondering if it’s too late to find some South American country to take refuge in. Because as every new year arrives, I feel more and more like the store manager at some discount supermarket, attending to queries of the order and import of “which electric toaster would you recommend?”.