Always hated goodbyes.

Especially since, for me, that means no more family get togethers for years (rather than months) and not much in terms of being spoiled by/getting annoyed by family on holidays. It sucks.

But, sometimes, it's necessary. And what better time than now? I reckoned I might as well make it official--PTSD was supposed to be E and I and since neither of us is doing much writing here, it's probably best we (well, I) lay it to rest. Fear not, those of you ("Hi Sis!") who read this for my repeated whinges can find it elsewhere. Teaching experiences and odd stuff about books, comics, politics and films will continue. And, E might want to keep writing here. PTSD'll be around but probably not very active (not much change then :))

Oh, yes. Before I go, one bit of news: Australia elected a Labor PM for the first time in over a decade. A chap who'd snuck out of a UN meeting* to visit a New York strip club (where he was warned for "inappropriate behaviour"--good on you, Mr Rudd!) and whose party has Peter Garrett (yes, that one) as its environmental spokesperson.

And, thank you readers. It's been fun.

* I can speak from experience and say that I am not surprised at his wanting to duck out of it.

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teaching, conferences and rats

Took over Prof P's class during Karin Fierke/Discourse Analysis session. Half the class was missing so turned it into a Q&A session in which I asked questions and expected them to answer/elaborate upon points we were making. The students didn't seem to expect the Q&A and took a while to start responding and asking questions of their own but it went off well.

Today, I had one of those classes when you know it's one of those days in which you'd rather not teach but just take things as they are and see how they go. All a rather fluffy way to say we sat and chatted about development, colonisation and globalisation--all in one one-hour session.

Why was I substituting for Prof P yesterday, yous ask (or, let's presume you do). Well, because he's off at SmallRegionalConference. I, on the other hand, am not. But, if I were, here's what I'd be doing.

Yesterday's Pearls Before Swine. Go here and check Rat.

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sometimes i want to throw the book at the wall*

As I sit here, flipping through the (required) text book for my class tomorrow, I come across this:

"This is the century in which desperate African states will be able to press their demands with weapons of mass destruction, and in which fanatics may destroy cities with nuclear weapons" (IR textbook)

Right. Exactly. Those African states. Huh.

* Though, with this book, it will probably bounce back and hit me on the head.

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one of those posts which will piss off everyone (except my Mum)

This is actually a self-congratulatory, "oh look how brilliant I sometimes am" post.

I just had an email from a former student from my Introduction to International Relations Research course from last semester. This student is currently in China (along with another of my students) for a semester abroad programme and he wrote an absolutely lovely email about how useful my class had been, how he had enjoyed actually doing research in my class and how some of the ethical issues we had grappled with had come up in the course of his current research. He gave examples of how the research tips we had talked about in class are helping him now.

Since I've spent a lot of time this semester agonising about whether how I am teaching my students World Politics is actually helping them*, this was a great email to get right now.

It's a few weeks to Thanksgiving, but I feel I can't take all of the credit for this. So, yes, thanks to Weberman and Prof P whom I nicked my syllabus from and to all those who had to listen to my stories about my class.

It's also one of those "oh so this is why I do what I do" moments and, yes, it feels fantastic.

* Especially in view of a recent conversation in which I was told that to expect "them" to have "sophisticated views" is to expect too much of them. "What do they know?" was the question I was asked. My response at that time was silence. Now, I'd say it doesn't matter what "they" know--it's more important to see what "we" can figure out in the course of a 75-minute class session.

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teaching and television shows

Today, I had a guest lecturer in my class. In terms of figuring out different teaching styles, it was a marvellous experience to watch someone else deal with my kids. To watch someone else perform.

I've more thoughts about teaching (and learning) styles and about how universities should really make junior instructors sit in on each others' classes so we can all learn from each other but shall save those for a later time as I am in need of sleep.

In the meantime, keep yourselves entertained with these: a couple of shows about fairly similar subjects ("race relations") and targeted towards a "tween" audience. I've only watched two episodes of one ("Life is Wild") and one of the other ("Aliens in America") but that (obviously--I mean, this is what academics do) will not stop me from writing about both from time to time.

If yous are interested-the first is an American version of a British show and features an American family who has moved to South Africa to run a lodge. The second is about a Pakistani (I think?) exchange student who has moved in with a typical (Midwestern) American family. Hijinks (presumably) ensue.

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some random thoughts about groceries, mimes and teaching kids

A day in which I spend nearly two hours walking to and from the grocery store, get honked at by folks in a car* and learn that most people I know in Pakistan are okay. Which is a good thing considering over 500 have been arrested and emergency rule established. With friends like these...

I also finally caught up on my students' online discussions--it's pretty encouraging how they have started becoming more confident in their views through the semester and how they are all bouncing ideas off each other. Online. In the class itself, it's less dynamic though the security simulation last week went well. I've also got a few fairly difficult cases and am slightly worried about what to do with them. On the one hand, it's their first semester so I don't want to crush their spirits. On the other hand, if they slack off, they should get penalised. I'll see how things go.

I'm still horribly behind on my grading. So far behind that I've papers from early October as yet ungraded. Between being ill and suddenly acquiring a tendency to fall asleep at odd hours of the day, things have not gone brilliantly this semester. I'm eagerly looking forward to its end.

Oh, and I made $7 as a mime during the time of a metro trip. That's $7 in less than 20 minutes. I suppose I can supplement my (future) pay by being a mime on my days off teaching.

* Thought that only happened in my part of the world. I also think it's because I was wearing a "I'm a Berkeley grouch" t-shirt (with a Sesame Street character on it) and carrying a couple of rather dodgy-looking BigNameConference bags, overflowing with groceries. The bags were free and are very convenient for grocery shopping (especially when the grocery store I like going to is half an hour's walk away). One of the bags had "Power Reconsidered"--in bold blue writing--on it.

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A Mime For A Day

Proving there is a little bit of an exhibitionist in all of us (or, maybe just in the quiet ones), tomorrow I plan to embark on a journey. It will be a soul-changing pilgrimage in which I wander along the routes that many have traversed and, yet, received little in return from and will search for the essential "me" which I'm sure is well hid within.*

Or, to bring us all back to earth, I shall be a mime for a day.

Why, yous ask? Why not, I reply--mainly because I'm rather keen on seeing how it'll all work out. I'll update yous after the grand event. Oh, and Washingtonians, if you see a mime out and about in town, do say Hi.

* What about that, eh? If pushed, I'm sure I can churn out more along those lines--big words saying little making no sense.

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South Park and PhD Defences: Disturbingly Similar

I just finished watching the final part of South Park's Imaginationland episodes. If yous have not seen them yet, go find them and have a look. They're all about terrorists taking over Imaginationland and the events thereafter--lots of people from pop culture and "reality" show up, the US military tries to nuke Imaginationland and Mel Gibson proves surprisingly useful to the boys.

I won't say more since yous really have to watch it. One thing though--today's final part had discussions about imaginary and real things and whether things in our imaginations can also be real (or, what is reality really?)

Surprisingly (or maybe not so much), a similar concern was raised during an event this afternoon--a dissertation defence* of one of TUWSNBN's PhD-ers. In terms of ceremonial pomp, the defence was quite different from South Park. In terms of some of the major issues raised, it was rather similar.

* It was definitely a defence--questions flew around the table, assertions were made and countered, heavyweights such as C. Wright Mills, the Monthly Review and Ralph Miliband--but not his more famous sons--made cameo appearances, the popcorn gallery (such as we were) was ruthlessly marginalised as we sat and watched and were silenced from speaking but the outcome was the production of a successful doctor of philosophy.

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The mandatory Halloween post (but with not much to say)

Happy Halloween, folks!

I spent most of it being fairly intimately acquainted with the loo and cursing the 3-day old prawn sandwich* I scarfed down yesterday.

All in all, a pretty scary Halloween.

* Like Keane (see no. 4) I should have distrusted prawn sandwiches (yes, well, this will only make sense to PTSD's one football-following reader!)

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