I live in a bubble.

October 17, 2008 - One Response

OK, the title is a lie.  I don’t live in a bubble.  I do live in Austin, though, which is almost as good in some ways.  I think it’s time for hilarious stories about my classmates and teachers!

As I mentioned before, we have three weeks to go before the election.  I had thought that the UT campus was suspiciously quiet this year, at least compared to primary season last spring, when it seemed like the campus became a giant hive-mind for Obamabots, Paulians, and a very small number of Huckabeeans (man, figuring out group names is hard!).  That pretty much sums up the political viewpoint of the school: liberals, big-L Libertarians, and evangelical Christians.  But I came back this year, and everything was quiet, even after Palin was chosen as McCain’s VP pick.  One one hand, I was thankful – I’m glad I don’t have to deal with “Palin is a C***” t-shirts, because it’s just wierd – but on the other, I was puzzled.  Where was all the energy?

Well, it’s started coming out.  In my fencing class, one girl spent every free moment talking about the wonderful world we would inhabit once that dreadful Bush-Cheney White House was gone.  OK, fine – a little irritating, but she’s essentially harmless.  No, the real explosion happened in my history class last night.  My professor is an older woman who has been part of the department for at least 20 years, and she is a proud part of the “Sarah Palin is an idiot” contingent.  In her defense, however, she think Adlai Stevenson should have won, so it’s not a specifically anti-Sarah Palin thing, more an anti-….well, I don’t know.  Anti-Republican?  Naw, Truman was a Democrat.  I guess it’s a cultural problem.  I’ve never actually met anyone who still supports Adlai Stevenson, but OK.  It takes all kinds, right?

So I walk into the class, and everyone is discussing the pre-debate polls.  Obama is 10% ahead!  What can that old man McCain do to derail him, huh?  The professor warns that McCain used to be pretty good back in the day, and another guy points out the dreaded “Bradley effect” – the people polled are secretly racist, you know.  I tried to point out that the polling methodology is wrong, but they weren’t listening, and then I (figuratively) smacked myself in the face.  Why was I outing myself as an idiotic non-Obama voter?

Anyway, after a few minutes, we moved back onto the the class subject, thank god.  But halfway into the class, the sound a car-chase interrupted us – what was that?  Well, as one of my brilliant classmates said, maybe McCain had died during the debate.  This, of course, set off a long discussion of what would happen, considering early voting had already started.  In their defense, they were very worried about this.  Would that woman take over?  Would the GOP have to do another convention?  It was all a bit morbid.  Finally, I pointed out that unless McCain grew a giant talking mole during the debate, he probably wasn’t dead, so maybe we could get back to, you know, the Crusades?  Of course, we had to continue talking a bit more, so I waited the discussion out and tried to avoid rolling my eyes.  I think it’s interesting how my classmates think McCain is so frail and on-the-edge – he’s had cancer, you know!  On the other hand, I’m pretty blase about the whole thing.  If McCain had had lung cancer or something like that, I guess I’d be more worried, but I know the rates for melanoma relapse and melanoma survival, and it’s not exactly terrifying.  Oh well.  They’re history majors, no one ever said they had to know science!  Or economics, either – remember, kids, those Golden Parachutes are to blame for the mortgage meltdown, not bad government regulation and political corruption!  Now, let’s get back to planning those wage and price controls!

Anyway, it was doubly weird, because we’re reading Robert of Clari’s chronicle of the fourth crusade, and the professor loves him, because he’s Everyman of the Crusades!  But at the same time, she castigates people who vote for McCain as idiots – why don’t ordinary middle-class voters understand how stupid they are?  Very strange.  I admit, I’ll never understand the persuasion tactic of “insult someone until they understand how stupid they are and how right I am”.  The same sort of people whinge about how horrible this country is, and how they’re going to move to Canada where all the smart people are.  I guess Canadians are like Pratchett’s trolls, and the cold makes their brains run better, although people who want to move to Canada for that reason that don’t seem to know anything about Canada, or they’d know a conservative government is in power.

Anyway, class ended, everyone gathered around the teacher to talk about Obama’s inaugeration, and I made my escape.  I’m not very good at faking enthusiasm for Obama, and although I don’t think my classmates or teacher are rabidly anti-Republican/liberatarian/conservative, the teacher is pretty forthright that stupid people don’t get good grades, and people who vote for McCain are stupid.  I’d like her to grade my paper (70% of my grade) thinking of me as the eager-beaver sophomore, not as that idiot Republican.

I feel like a coward, but I don’t want to waste the money on this course.  I’d like to at least pass and get rid of another requirement to graduation.  On the other hand, this is the third class in the liberal arts that I’ve taken, and the second I’ve seriously regretted.  A trend to watch, or just bad luck?  You decide.

On the upside, I really want to see McCain win now.  I have class on November 5, and I have the feeling it will be hilarious if Obama loses.

The last month is always the worst part, supposedly…

October 15, 2008 - Leave a Response

So, the election is in three weeks.  I keep telling myself to soldier on, I’ve survived two years of this crap, I can survive another three weeks, can’t I?  Don’t be wuss, Elena!  But it seems so far away…and this campaign is so incredibly boring

On the other hand, quite a few conservative pundits are jumping ship for the Obama-boat.  Impressive, guys, impressive.  You know, one of the things I’ve always loved about the conservative movement is how diverse it is – in terms of ideology, anyway.  Free trade is good – but should we be for reciprocal free-trade, or single-way treaties?  What about taxes – should we just lower it across-the-board, or lower just corporate taxes, or maybe instead of lowering taxes, just reform the tax system?  Same argument on foreign policy, welfare reform, etc, etc.  I like that about the conservative movement – I like that we can argue and still be conservative.

With that said, I’m not very happy with the people jumping ship.  Ooh, McCain – he’s not articulate or charismatic or conservative enough to be president, so let’s support Obama instead!  LAME.  How is this news, conservative punditry?   McCain’s many, many flaws as a candidate have been well known since, like, forever.  Charismatic?  Not our guy – he got where he was by outlasting everyone else, and in fact, being the majority second choice of the republican party.  Articulate – well, he’s better than Bush on that count, but his campaign is floundering like a hooked fish.  Not sure what’s going on there except the knowledge that whatever stand the campaign makes, McCain will be called a racist.  Now, personally, I don’t care, but I realize that I was born far, far after the Civil Rights movement, so being called a racist has no effect on someone like me.  McCain is probably different, being older and all.  Not conservative enough?  Well, whoop-de-doo.  Really?  So voting for Obama is any better?  I’m not really sure how that makes any sense, considering that Obama is pretty liberal…

Of course, if other conservative pundits point that out, we’re hopeless McCainiacs, which is rather annoying.  McCain wasn’t my first choice, but I’ve lined up behind the guy because I think Obama will be worse – for the economy, at least, if not foreign policy.  I guess that makes me an anti-intellectual racist far-right ideologue that likes to (wait for it!) eat children.

Well, good luck guys, that’s all I can say.  I’m not sure how endorsing the liberal candidate is conservative, but hey, it’s a free country!  Anyway, that’s my political post for today.  I guess I’ll go do some actual work – like, you know calculus.  Korean.  Harassing my history teacher.  Whoops, did I say that out loud?

Random anectdotal evidence, part one

September 28, 2008 - Leave a Response

Hmm.  Not much to post about this weekend – not because nothing is happening, but because midterms are destroying my will to live, and the only thing that compells me to continue on is the near, dear hope that the Muppets Show will be revived soon.  The only thing that’s happened is ACL is going on, and every crazy music-loving nut from here to Minnesota has suddenly appeared, ranting about the eternal battle of Jesus and devil on the bus system, sacking out on the sidewalk next to the trashcan crawling with cockroaches, and just generally being strange and disturbing.

Of course, the only reason this is notable is because the last three weeks have been remarkably non-dangerous.  I suppose this is because the cops need to keep the city reasonably safe for ACL attendees – it’s a prime source of revenue for the city, after all – but I wish they did it all the time.  On the other hand, I think it must be worse than usual.  In the space of two days, two not-particularly-safety-conscious friends have told me to be safe when I’m walking outside, and also, girls don’t take night classes because it’s not safe.  Hm.  News to me.

It was very sweet of them to be concerned, but considering that last year, they were wandering around campus with their mp3 players turned up full-blast after dark while I was avoiding the Drag and carrying pepper spray…well, I think it’s a little overdue, isn’t it?  On the other hand, I’m relieved they’re actually taking note of what’s going on around them.  I don’t want my friends to get mugged.

So, what’s going on?  Is Austin just unusually lousy with crazy homeless people this year, or are people just noticing the situation more?  I mean, I don’t really notice a difference, but I was carrying pepper spray from before the April ’08 robberies, so I don’t think I’m the best judge.  Too paranoid.

Raison D’etre (now that’s what I call pretentious)

September 24, 2008 - Leave a Response

Hi!  My name is elenathehun, and this is my blog.  I’m starting this blog for one nakedly materialistic goal: I would like to win $10,000 by making first place in AFF’s College Blogger Contest.  Well, now that you know that much about me, I guess I should elaborate a bit more: I’m a freetrader, a hawk, and Jewish, and I call myself a neoconservative.  Socialist Workers of the World would call me a running-dog capitalist warmonger who takes marching orders from Israel.  That’s a little long, though, so they call me a neoconservative too.  We’re in agreement!  Enjoy it, ’cause it’ll never happen again…

Now, I’ve seen a lot of stuff online about a) how awesome Austin is and b) how awesome Austin is because it’s liberal.  I have to say that I disagree with the both of the above statements.  I think Austin is a perfectly nice town, but it’s certainly not awesome – and the parts that are good are generally not the “liberal” parts.  I’m sorry, homeless advocates, but I don’t think carrying pepper spray is awesome, and I wish I didn’t have to carry it.

Additionally, I am a student at the University of Texas.  Strangely enough, there is not nearly as much effusive gushing about the awesomeness of the university, but I guess it’s fashionable to bash your college these days, so I’ll be in good company!  My reasons for talking down UT are not the reasons of slackers everywhere – I don’t particularly mind reading a lot of textbooks and doing a lot of homework, but I do mind the fact that no matter what class I take, no matter what subject, the teacher always has to talk about why Republicans are evil, why our current president is a war criminal, and why the rest of the world hates us.  Can we please go back to discussing differential equations?

Now, with all that said, I guess I should finish off with what I hope this blog will be about: Texas politics, focused on Austin and the University of Texas.  Why doesn’t Student Health Services accept insurance?  Why is the school bureaucracy hiking tuition again?  Why can’t the police actually do their job and patrol?  All these questions – and more! – will be answered, after the commercial break.