Three Things I Hope To Never Cover in Lecture Again

I am in an entirely in-major courseload this semester. This has led me to the startling realization that there are basically three things that will be mentioned in every single class I ever set foot in during the course of my career here. If I could never have them discussed again, that would be awesome.

  1. Frat hazing: I get it. American culture is hard to pull rituals–particularly age-cohort coming-of-age rituals–from, and you want to pull from your students’ culture in order to make things Relevant. But I swear to Christ, if we talk about fraternity initiation one more time, I’m going to throw a DVD of Animal House at your Google Image picture of frat boys getting their homoerotic on. I have had this used in literally every single class that I am enrolled in this semester with the exception of my archaeology course–and that’s because wooden paddles don’t hold up in grave goods. Please find a new example. (I suggest the Masons. Everybody loves the Masons!)
  2. The “gender is not sex” lecture: I did in fact just have this in my archaeology class, so we’re 3 for 4 (and I’m pretty sure we’re batting 100% in my previous classes). It’s not that this isn’t a good thing to drive home. It is! It’s awesome! But if you’re not going to go into any more depth than this, this is a 101 topic that doesn’t need to be brought up again. It should be taken as a given that your students already know this, particularly if you’re not going to go in depth with this topic beyond that statement. Stick it in one of the required major classes, address it there, and go into it in more depth any other time it is mentioned. It does not need to be a full lecture every single time.
  3. Hijras: Hijras are interesting! They were particularly interesting when I covered them in 101. They have gotten less interesting as they have become the example for third genders in every class I’ve had since. Instead, talk about Native American third genders or invite students to talk about the modern American trans movement. If you’re going to try to relate coming-of-age rituals to the American context by using frat boys, then you have to relate gender issues to that context, too. Stick up some Youtube clips from Buck Angel! It’ll be a novel change of pace.

And by “care package,” I mean “bomb.”

Beep, beep, beep... It's Hotmail! Image courtesy of Flickr user Cindy Seigle. Licensed under CC 2.0 BY-NC-SA.

Today Microsoft sent me a care package. It included: a pedometer, a thumb drive, a cork screw, bubble wrap, a book on origami, and an alarm clock. With the alarm going off.

You guys, Mail Services thought I had received a bomb.

Now, can you guess what product Microsoft was trying to advertise with this assortment of items? If you guessed the launch of the new Hotmail, you’re right. In addition, you must work for Microsoft’s marketing department, because there is no one else on Earth who could make that connection. It was a terrible package. For one,  the package was a giant waste of resources, shipping fuel, and manufacturing costs. The only part of it that I kept was the thumb drive–the envelope-shaped box, the corkscrew, the pedometer, the origami book, the alarm clock, and the bubble wrap all went to people sitting with me at lunch. Secondly, it was poorly-targeted. There is no demographic that likes all those things, and though they were all loosely tied to the launch (you can “hit the snooze button” because Hotmail is so fast, and the like), they were mostly confusing. I didn’t know what the box was for, and I had been sent an email about the launch three days ago with no mention of the box in it.

But the thing that set me off, aside from the general poor planning and execution of the campaign, was the god-damn alarm clock. Who in their right mind sends a beeping package through the mail? If nothing else, it was annoying the mail services employees, who are all lovely people and who are not paid to listen to Microsoft’s bad marketing go off all morning. But more than that, sending something that says “sketchy device! Maybe a bomb!” through the mail is a terrible idea. Continue reading

Dear polos: I hate you.

Dear polos: I hate you.

Yes, you, you polyblend summer uniform sonsofabitch. In your men’s incarnation you are baggy and, somehow, despite that fact you still manage to make me twenty pounds heavier. How? I don’t know! If I did, I’d sell the technology to some Russians wanting to shame their enemies. And don’t get me started on the embroidered ones of you: either the embroidery awkwardly lies halfway up my shoulder, because polos don’t fit humans, or it lies halfway down my breast, making every interaction with a customer a morass of uncomfortable glances.

But you’re not getting off either, ladies-cut polos. No–if anything, you’re worse. What is it that prompted every polo manufacturer in America to size their polos for twelve-year-olds? They cling uncomfortably up top–both revealing the outline of your bra and giving the general public the impression you are some magical primate with a single breast–and bunch around your stomach. Even Jillian Michaels would have stomach fat the way these things fit. And, unlike the overlarge mens’ polos which give you an extra foot of fabric if you dare to tuck them in, these beauties manage to stop two inches above the waistband of your shorts.

It doesn’t matter what shorts you are wearing.

Continue reading