The teaching online continues. The school's template included a third week "check-in" page, so I have heard from about 25% of the class via that page. And the level of stress is clearly high, but the students largely seem to either like or tolerate well enough the videos we have created and the various assignments. They complain about the reading, which is perhaps the most normal thing about this course. Some of that is on my co-teacher and I, as we made things a bit more challenging after last year's students said that the class was too basic. It is a challenging balance since the class is for third year students but is in an inter-disciplinary program, so the students start with very different backgrounds. For the most part, we handle that by having two videos a week--one basic and one less so. Same for the readings--one basic (Dan Drezner's Theory of International Politics and Zombies) and a couple of articles that are less basic. I have already given more extensions for assignments in this class, three weeks into it, than in any class I remember. But then again, I have more early assignments--short weekly reading reflections (pass/fail on each one)--to minimize the weight and keep the students engaged. The memes of the week continue to entertain me with my favorites this week to the right and below
I have been too busy/unproductive to blog about the outbreak of irredentist violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, something I will try to get to next week.
Of course, out in the world, the big story was the debate. Oh wait, not any more. But, yes, I watched the debate as part of a debate bingo game organized by a friend of my sister's. It was fun although I should have finished in third place (dispute over the meaning of a category). The debate itself was painful. Joe started slowly but reacted pretty well, all things considered, to the obnoxious machine on the stage. I didn't quite realize at the time that Biden's defense of his addicted son was going to be so meaningful. But in a opoid era, Biden's sincere stance probably was his best move of the night.
Lots of people are getting a lot of satisfaction this week, and I am definitely one of them. It is not just that Trump now has COVID, but that the event to celebrate the awful nomination of the awful Amy Coney Barrett turns out to be a cursed super-spreading event. Am I a bad person for taking some, yes, joy from the suffering of others? Maybe, but I would be a liar if I didn't think this was karmic. Not ironic, but karmic. It is not ironic that those who have denied the severity of the virus, who have considered themselves immune, who have behaved recklessly and irresponsibly from the time this pandemic started. No, it is earned. This White House and the GOP Senators have earned this illness. I feel bad for the Secret Service, the journalists, and the various staffers who were doing their jobs, but I don't feel bad for Trump, Melania, Mike Lee, or KellyAnne Conway.
A party utterly devoid of empathy is now complaining that they are not getting enough sympathy. So, we get takes like this:
Sorry Republicans, if you don't wear protection and something happens, you have to keep it!— Alison Leiby (@AlisonLeiby) October 3, 2020
Part of dealing with the stress of this thing is venting out one's frustrations, not holding it in. And since this administration has done much to deepen and prolong the suffering, they are fair game. Other people can be better than that, but I will not be.
And then there is this: the President of Notre Dame tried to have a punitive stance towards students who didn't follow the rules, but yet he went to the White House event sans mask and got the disease, which has led to a nice pushback by the students:
The kids, indeed, are alright.Notre Dame launched a site for students to snitch on each other for COVID-19 violations. Instead, they awesomely have used it to report the university president for shaking hands and not wearing a mask at the White House, demanding his resignation.— Andrew Goldstein DEEP CANVASSING GETS VOTES (@AndrewMakeTweet) October 2, 2020
I feel bad for the younger folks--the kids, the teenagers, the college students, recent grads--as this disease is disrupting their lives and sucking out much of the joy of being young. They can't hang with their friends, they can't play with them, and if they do, they risk the health of others (as well as their own), and if they don't, they still get hammered when it is quite clear that those who are responsible for all of this are so irresponsible.
Canada is now deep into a second wave that promises to be worse than the first wave. Federalism has meant that the federal government could give money to people who lost their jobs, a good thing, but couldn't get the provinces to keep things closed or to priortize correctly. So, Ontario, under Doug Ford, looked good at first but has bungled it. The hospitals are under great pressure, the schools don't have anything like the resources they should, and testing has been spotty at best, incredibly frustrating at worst.
Like in the US, it didn't have to be this way. And now the toll is accumulating again. It is going to be a very hard winter. I need to return to the habit of having social zooms as I am feeling mighty detached. My recommendation is to reach out, as everyone remains thirsty for company. If it has to be on a screen, so be it. But don't go through this alone. Be well and embrace your schadenfreude. Whatever it takes to make you feel better. The only people who should feel guilty are those who are governing.