06 January 2010

Sneak Preview: Spring Semester 2010.

In an epic oversight, I haven't actually mentioned what classes I'll be taking in this upcoming semester. Let's break this down ESPN style:

Core Humanities 203: US and Nevada Constitution and History.
Required by the Nevada State Board of Regents, it's the US history high school students know and love, but with a twist: the history of the state of Nevada and this state's unique laws, customs, and constitution are part of the curriculum as well.  Instructor is the same one I had for Core Humanities 202.  This is on purpose; I know what happens when I have a teacher who doesn't like my writing style (I almost had to repeat the ninth grade due to nearly failing English), so finding one who can be reliably counted upon to write "Excellent work: A" at the bottom of my turned-in papers is a profound stroke of good fortune.
Predicted grade: A.
Sociology 205: Ethnic Groups in Contemporary Society.
Meeting the "diversity" requirement, I get to experience 16 weeks of white-guilt and laying on the "anyone darker than you are is better than you" with a trowel.  Either this course is going to magically open my eyes to how wonderful the American melting pot is...or I'm going to butt heads with the teacher because I believe so strongly in social and cultural unity as a prerequisite for a successful society.  That viewpoint tends to tar me with the racist brush (especially since its greatest exponent in the media is Glenn Beck).  Back in 1994, my friend Keith wrote a paper on "The Evils of Multiculturalism", in which he laid out the case for everything from the White Australia Policy to English as official language of the United States...and he nearly lost his college scholarships before my mother (who got 3/5 of the school board elected) came to his defense and "how did that happen?  Hmmm..." unified the school district in Keith's favor.  I don't have mommy (mine or anyone else's) to bail my ass out, so it just might come down to me bullshitting just enough in order to survive.
Predicted grade: B-minus.
Accounting 202: Managerial Accounting.
Taking the financial accounting concepts and theory learned in Accounting 201 and putting the student in the shoes of the actual consumer of such information.  The focus is on using financial statement data to make business decisions.  Major resumé fodder course, figures heavily into my major, and I'd damn well better be able to know this stuff considering my career choice.  Fortunately, I'm quite good at my major, having pulled an A last semester.
Predicted grade: A.
Math 126: Pre-Calculus.
I took this in 11th grade.  My skills have deteriorated so far over the last sixteen years that I'm taking it again in college.  I've already taken Statistics, for which this course is a prerequisite; the Economics department waived me into Stat and I got an A in it.  I just have to remember how the hell to do trigonometry.  Shouldn't be TOO hard, should it?  I've done really well in math classes throughout my life.  This should be child's play.
Predicted grade: A.
Economics 262: Principles of Statistics II.
Last semester, I wrapped up an A in Stat I on November 3 (the equivalent, I suppose, of a football team starting 10-0 and clinching a playoff spot in Week 10.) I have the same instructor for Stat II.  Not much more needs to be said, right?  Probably my easiest course.
Predicted grade: A, wrapped up before Easter.
Information Systems 201: Computer Applications.
From TMCC's catalog: "Advanced topics in spreadsheets, microcomputer-based database management systems and macro-programming."  Spreadsheets?  Easy.  Database management?  Dear gods, do I ever suck at it.  Programming?  I am not a nerd!  I learned in IS101 that these computer classes are harder than they look, and I had to pull an A out of the fire after going into October with a B-minus average.  Oddly, this is exactly the sort of kick in the ass I needed to realize that going into a computer course admitting that I'm a complete dumbass and should pay close attention to the course materials is essential to doing well.  This is the class I'll see as the challenge to be surmounted.  Knowing me, that's a recipe for success...just not a perfect one.
Predicted grade: A-minus.

So let's see.  Four A's, an A-minus, and a B-minus.  That will give me a 3.73 GPA for the semester and a 3.89 overall, keeping me in the mix for that transfer scholarship at UNR next year.  Looks like I'm setting the bar at 3.7 and trying to top it---consider that last May I went on record as saying anything better than a 3.3 (a B+ average) would be an accomplishment!

Classes start on January 25.  I've got the next 18 days to play games, have fun, and otherwise act like the overgrown kid I seem to have become.


  1. Oh c'mon, Fox, you're a smart guy! I found it fun and hilarious to write papers based on all of the PC bullshit professors wanted to hear. It was laughably easy, and even instructors knew I was shitting them - they gave me good marks because I DID cover what they wanted covered. Turn it into a game.

    The stats and the math would kill me....

  2. I like my Core Humanities prof, who actively encourages me to be politically incorrect both because it makes for more entertaining papers when he knows I believe in what I'm writing and because he's a bit of an agent provocateur who likes to fan the flames of student debate in his lectures.

    Unfortunately, I have no idea who's teaching Sociology 205. It could be one of those fairy-flower-child types, it could be someone who is easily offended (consider how close I am to northern California---we've got a lot of imports in Reno). If that's the case, I'm right fucked. But if she likes my writing style? I could end up with an A. I'm just not going to predict it.

  3. Fox, I taught a course on ethnic relations in a Canadian university. It was in a social anthropology dept. so the approach was comparative (for instance China, India, former Yugoslavia, etc etc etc --add Yemen now that we realize how complicated small places with multi-ethnic groups can be and the practical need to know about them) and of course Canada.

    I'm dismayed that you feel that just the mention of the topic is PC. All countries are made up of a hodge podge of various ethnicities (even Switzerland with its 3 different languages!).

    When you approach the topic, think three ways: pattern, context and history. If you want to go for a more abstract approach, you can think in terms of structures. Are there aspects of the dynamics of ethnic relations that are reccuring in all instances or not? Is there a historical reason why some ethnic relations in some countries are good and some in others are conflicted? Does this change over time or geographical areas? Do ethnic relations always involve stygmatization and/or exploitation or not?

    The interesting thing in our country is the pervasive use of the concept of Black/White. For instance, for the longest time the Irish were called "Niggers" but eventually they became white and now we are all happily celebrating Irish holidays. This basically happened for all immigrant groups to the US who underwent a process of "whitening." There's a fascinating book by Karen Brodkin titled "How Jews Became White Folks". If you read this book during your break and bring it up in class, I can almost guarantee you an A!

    Think about it: isn't knowing a bit about how our society and others are put together useful knowledge? I mean, since we have to live in one country or another, we might as well get a feel for the lay of the land....

  4. PS: about this black/white thing. Look at your own reaction: you think of "ethnic relations" in the US primarily as black and white and the study of them as "white guilt". Yet we are a country of immigrants and there's so much to learn....

    For instance from where did your folks or grand parents or great grand parents come from? And how did they do when they got here? (this would be a good topic for a term paper, but more at a freshman or even high school level unless you can broaden it beyond indivdidual experience: you know in terms of pattern, context, history....oh, and of course culture, and what happens to it in a new environment. For instance, I wonder if anyone has tackled the issue of why Dutch immigrant communities in the US and their descendants are soooooo conservative while their former compatriots in the Netherlands are sooooo liberal? Has this pattern been the same for other immigrant groups and if yes or if no, why?

    Of course slavery and the invention of the notion of race to justify it, and the terrorizing of the former slave population through lynchings and other atrocities that were still happening in the seventies remains onee of the things at the core of US history.

    But I sure don't believe in collective guilt, particularly one based on such an absurd notion as the amount of melanin in our skins. We live in the world now, and if we live in it as decently and as responsibly and as knowlegeably as we can, now that would be already an incredible improvement over the past.

  5. PS: to your HS friend Keith: Australia was multi cultural at the very outset (you know, there were people already living there), even when most of the so called "whites" were inmates of the prisons the Brits had set up to get the home country rid of undesirables and criminals of various sorts (including murderers)... (incidentally, the UK too is made up of various ethnic groups so also added to Australia's early multi-cultural character So the UK is still made up of the Scots,the Welsh (all with independence mvts), and still some Irish, etc etc etc in addition to immigrants from the UK's former colonies. And then now you have people from other countries in the EU and vice versa --it all makes ethnic relations so interesting.

    So think about it, next time you eat a taco or a pizza (or if you branch out, have some yummy sourkraut with sausage ---mmmm I wonder why the Scottish dish of haggis never really made it?), and above all when you listen to music...

    Perhaps you could suggest to your buddy that melanin is the lamest superficial trait he could use for social identity.


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