Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Class #9

5:10 Professor has student take broken clock off wall. Professor’s phone rings.
5:10-5:11 Professor lists Secretaries of State. Point of list is still unclear.
5:11 Professor makes joke about broken clocks.
5:11-5:12 Minute of near-silence. Professor re-examines seating chart.
5:12-5:13 Professor discusses merits of comparative methods of chalkboard writing.
5:13-undetermined time Discussion of assignments.
5:13 Professor actively encourages illegal gambling.
5:14 Professor encourages us to provide “mid-course correction.” Perhaps we should send him this website?
5:14-5:15 Professor suggests students should approach him on campus.
5:16-5:17 Reminder that environmentalism is an evil evil religion.
5:17-5:18 Return to broken clock. Suggests misguided fundraising priorities. Story about dinner party.
5:18-5:21 Three minute presentation of “distillation” of four sentence paper topic.
5:21-5:22 Encouragement of parsing of words. Endorsement of Clinton’s position of “not having had sexual relations” with Lewinsky. Discussion of own teenage sexual beliefs.
5:25 Professor asks for definition of lynching.
5:27-5:28 Professor discusses the comparative merit of types of hotels.
5:28-5:31 Professor discusses the nature of rights.
5:32 Professor scribbles notes to himself in total silence.
5:33 Professor argues with himself for roughly 45 seconds as to the precise date civil rights became a political issue.
5:37 Foreign graduate students arrive.
5:38 Professor apologizes to student for causing existential angst, recommends suicide hotline numbers.
5:38-5:39 Professor suggests Simpsons is highly overrated television. Admits to having watched it three times for five minutes each.
5:41-5:42 Professor suggsts that we would have covered entire history of rights in class today, if we had been more focused.
5:42-5:43 We’re talking about primaries and caucuses. No idea what this has to do with anything.
5:43-5:44 West Virginian mafia? Argues that Teamsters are the legitimate arm of the Mafia.
5:46 “Atomization” mentioned for the first time in today’s class. Also written on board at this time: “openness,” “fluid,” “porous,” and “xenophobia.”
5:47 Apparently explicitly done discussing papers. Papers have not been mentioned in roughly 25 minutes.
5:48 Ooops, he spoke too soon. We’re now discussing the first paper and its due date. Professor scribbles more notes to himself on a manila folder.
5:49 Professor describes his hatred of email, encourages phone calls, claiming to be “very lonesome.”
5:50 Foreign graduate students whispering to each other in some non-English language. Laughing, presumably at Professor.
5:50-5:51 Further discussion of papers. Still no substantive material has been discussed.
5:52 Professor suggests that second paper will deal with second set of readings, but closely resemble first paper in format. Reads first paper assignment out loud, substituting names of later readings for those listed on sheet. Scribbles some more notes to himself. How many manila folders does he have?
5:53 Professor asks for the first time: “what happens in this story?” He’s referring to immigration reform. Follows this by asking “what’s this story about?”
5:54 Professor opens external classroom door.
5:55 Substantive material begins. So far, reviewing material that has already been covered at least once, if not more.
5:57 1776 and 1789 mentioned. No discussion of substantive content of Declaration of Independence or Constitution follows.
5:58-5:59 Professor questions whether his use of term “left-handed compliment” could be construed as offensive.
6:01-6:02 Professor laments the end of the public-access television career of former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson. Expresses shock that no student in class remembers his “excellent program.”
6:02-6:03 Professor suggests electoral base of Wyoming polticians is composed mainly of sheep. Not followers, the wooly kind.
6:04 Professor discusses possibility of writing novel about Brandeis entitled either “Blackstone University” or “Cardozo University.” Mentions literary merit of unrelated novel, “The Gay Place.” Writes title on board.
6:05 Professor interrupts student three times after calling on her.
6:06 Professor suggests that Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota, are all same place. Further suggests that only major political issues in those states are “sheep and oil.”
6:07 Professor suggests Pledge of Allegiance should be changed to say “One Nation Under Canada.” Robin Williams mentioned.
6:09-6:10 Professor points to Student A and asks Student B if her name is Rebecca. Student A offers answer for herself. Professor informs class that one of his daughters is named Rebecca, and that the other is Jessica. Encourages class to bring any friends named Jessica to class so he can easily remember their name.
6:11 Professor, during discussion of immigrant “detention camps,” suggests the misnomer of “concentration camps.” Asks class “you’ve heard of concentration camps, right?” Launches into brief discussion of linguistic treatment of holocaust survivors.
6:12 Scribbling more notes on manila envelope. This one has some vehement underlining. Silence for about thirty seconds.
6:13-6:15 Professor asks which students are from California. Expresses pleasure with fact that “every state” is represented by 18 person class. Suggests that student from Florida is “the same” as students from California.
6:17 Professor’s sentence trails off while he fidgets with his cell phone. Announces that he wants to “tie up” this discussion.
6:18 These “minutes” are now on three pages. I may want to be more selective in future weeks. Exciting change of pace. Sorts through some plain white paper and scribbles his notes on the backs of those, rather than manila folders.
6:20 Is he wrapping up early? Apparently, we’ve covered “what happens in this story,” and will turn our attention to “what is this story about” for next week. Professor repeats this question aloud several times.
6:21 Back to the manila envelope. What the hell is he writing? Mission for next week: steal one, and try to decipher the notes.
6:23 Dismisses class. What the hell have we been doing for the last hour and thirteen minutes??
Class #8

5:10-5:25 Topic: Environmentalism as religion and zealotry. “Trees are now grown as crops.”
5:25-5:30 Redid Seating Chart
5:29 Professor’s phone rings….on schedule.
5:30-5:33 Professor introduces overview of themes for the course. During eighth meeting of course.
5:33-5:37 Sidetrack onto environmental policy of Oakland. Explanation of the costs/benefits of clean water. Discussion as to why Professor likes black people and hates mollusks who have more political clout.
5:37-5:45 Professor discusses broad themes of the course, including characteristics of modern policymaking.
5:45-5:47 Pause to thank God for Al Gore and the Internet. Also condemns Kerry for being a bum who is totally dependent on his wife.
5:47-5:55 Paradoxes of slow vs. rapid action in gov’t. Decentralized power of the courts. Politics are fragmented. Oakland’s recent struggles, and whether legislation should be called “gridlocked” or “deadlocked.”
5:55-6:01 Professor tells story about splashing Mr. Clean in his eye. Point of story is unclear. Professor then talks about his desire to use older products. Point remains in doubt. Begin immigration discussion. Legislation used to be quick, now it’s slow. This is a paradox. Next several weeks will be spent discussing this. Quick overview of later in semester.
6:01-6:03 Professor asks a question. Correct answer given. Professor spends remaining 2 minutes arriving at the same conclusion.
6:06 Anecdote about Professor’s poor writing abilities. Professor pauses to dust off chair.
6:06-6:08 90’s politics is supposed to be partisan. Policymaking is centrist, though. How does this happen? Paradox. Begins to conclude overview when…
6:08-6:? Question sidetracks conversation. Homestead Act mentioned. Linked to immigration….somehow. Author loses focus.
6:12-6:16 Current topic is somehow teenage pregnancy and abortion. Move into intimacy and warmth of sex. Conversation has become extremely awkward. Onto AIDS. Conversation seems to be focusing on American Culture and sexual habits.
6:16-6:17 Minute of total silence.
6:17-6:20 How did immigration reform pass? To be discussed in coming weeks. Painfully irrelevant discussion on America’s influence on world affairs.
6:20-6:30 Conclusion: What are the politics of policymaking? How does legislation get passed?
This blog will chronicle the adventures of a small politics seminar at a liberal arts university in the Northeastern United States. It will pick up in the class's eighth meeting, because our intrepid minutes-takers did not start the process until that point.

Each time the class meets, one of two students will keep careful minutes of the class's activities. Enjoy.