“I want your essay thesis as long as it’s weak. I want it vague!”

Some comic relief for those who are grading (or will soon be). Lady Gaga’s “Bad Sentence” — “I want your wordy redundancies. I want your essay thesis as long as it’s weak. I want it vague! … I want run-ons… on, on, on, I want run-ons!” Love it.


a spell to help with grading papers?

Donna Hicks speculates about the teaching life in the Harry Potter universe…

I wonder if Hogwarts teachers use magic to grade papers. I would like to know that spell. “Gradomindus!” Hmm… it appears my ruler doesn’t really work as a wand.

How about a spell to get students to understand a difficult concept? “Comprendo!”

– from “Teaching Magic: Dumbledore Had it. Do You?” NEA Today, January 2008, p. 60.

“The Dean of Divination at Harvard University”

First, by way of introduction: the composition coordinator (Sara) and others of us in the English department at OSU — we keep well-written Writing 121 papers to use as examples and models for future WR 121 students. Well, as you’ll be able to tell (below), we don’t edit them. They come with all their glories as well as all their foibles.

I was just uploading two sample rhetorical analyses to my two Blackboard sites (for each of my two WR 121 classes). And I just noticed this line in one of them: “Prager was outraged by the forced resignation of Ronald F. Thiemann, the Dean of Divination at Harvard University.”

In the July 1999 issue of Weekly Standard, the conservative theologian, Dennis Prager wrote the essay Divinity and Pornography. Prager was outraged by the forced resignation of Ronald F. Thiemann, the Dean of Divination at Harvard University. Prager claims that Thiemann was subject to heterophobia and suggests that liberal parties and feminist are at fault for this discrimination. Prager’s claim is that Thiemann’s resignation was unjust. By tying emotional and logical examples together, Prager is able to riel-up his primary audience of conservative Christians. But by appealing to primarily men, Prager alienates the entire female gender. (emphasis mine)

The Dean of Divination at Harvard University! Hmmm! Must be a new position! And that person must always be on loan from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because the muggle world, even the muggle United States, doesn’t produce many professors of divination. And I wonder if Sybill Trelawney or Frienze know about this Theimann fellow.  Heheh.

The student obviously meant “Dean of Divinity” or “Dean of the Divinity School.” Reminds me of how at least two people said — when I got my Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree — something like, “Does that mean you’re an expert in chocolate?” Divinity is just no longer a familiar field. At least, it’s no longer half as familiar as the other professional fields, law and medicine.

Anyway, I love that: The Dean of Divination at Harvard University. Sounds like a fun position. As Marjorie said, when I showed her that sentence: “Are you in the beeeeeyooooond?” heheh

A new book sold in Flourish and Blotts? The Rhetorical Book of Rhetoric alongside The Monster Book of Monsters?

Well, this is not untypical for me during the academic terms: it’s 4:45am and I’ve been awake for about an hour. Someone slammed a door down the hall, and I woke up startled. I think I was dreaming about arguable theses or rhetorical analysis (!). It was something to do with my students, I know (they’re finishing up their argumentative research papers and beginning work on the rhetorical analysis paper on Monday). I went to sleep thinking about lesson plans for the rhetorical analysis. And right now I just thought of the Dixie Chicks’ song “Earl” as an example of pathos and hyperbole.

Anyway! So, to help myself get back to sleep I often read Harry Potter (though obviously it didn’t work because I’m still awake and writing this post!).  So this time I started reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban where I left off the last time. Harry is hanging out in Diagon Alley for three weeks waiting for the beginning of the fall term at Hogwarts. He goes into Flourish and Blotts to buy his required school books, one of which is The Monster Book of Monsters.

As Harry entered Flourish and Blotts, the manager came hurrying towards him.
“Hogwarts?” he said abruptly. “Come to get your new books?”
“Yes,” said Harry. “I need –”
“Get out of the way,” said the manager impatiently, brushing Harry aside. He drew on a pair of very thick gloves, picked up a large, knobbly walking tick and proceeded towards the door of the Monster Books’ cage.
“Hang on,” said Harry quickly, “I’ve already got one of those.”
“Have you?” A loom of enormous relief spread over the manager’s face. “Thank heavens for that, I’ve been bitten five times already this morning –”
A loud ripping noise rent the air; two of the Monster Books had seized a third and were pulling it apart.
“Stop it! Stop it! cried the manager, poking the walking stick through the bars and knocking the books apart. “I’m never stocking them again, never! it’s been bedlam! I thought we’d seen the worst when we bought two hunded copies of the Invisible Book of Invisibility – cost a fortune, and we never found them… Well… is there anything else I can help you with?”

Too funny. What a great way to dramatize the power of books, of writing. Though a book called The Rhetorical Book of Rhetoric doesn’t have that much punch, does it. But if the magical community did have such a book, perhaps each copy would make the unsuspecting book shopper swoon or sit mesmerized or fascinated or convinced of some new idea — or something — whenever they opened the binding.  Or, how about The Pathetic Book of Pathos? Whatever page the reader opens up to, whatever the type of pathos the author is describing makes the reader immediately feel that emotion, that frame of mind? Hmmm!

Okay! Well, anyway! I had better try to get back to sleep. I am getting a bit sleepy again. Finally.

Night night. I mean — morning, morning!

“A Pastor’s Business Card”

And now for something completely different. Just got this from my mom.

“A Pastor’s Business Card”

A new pastor was visiting in the homes of her parishioners. At one house, it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to her repeated knocks at the door.

Therefore, she took out a business card and wrote “Revelation 3:20” on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

When the offering was processed the following Sunday, she found that her card had been returned. Added to it was this cryptic message, “Genesis 3:10.”

Reaching for her Bible to check out the citation, she broke up in gales of laughter. Revelation 3:20 begins, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

Genesis 3:10 reads, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.”

I enjoyed that. :)

Yesterday and today, Theresa and Hedwig

Yesterday was the feast of St Teresa of Avila, the only* female doctor of the Catholic Church. I like this, from universalis.com (a site dedicated to the Liturgy of the Hours):

A favourite story about St Teresa illustrates the intimate relationship that the saints have with God. When she was on one of her innumerable journeys across Spain, her horse threw her as she was crossing a river. Soaked to the skin she looked up to heaven and said, “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!”

And today is the feast of St Hedwig. And my apologies to Hedwig of Andechs, the 13th century woman, but I can’t help but think more of Hedwig, the snowy OWL pet and mail-deliverer in Harry Potter’s world, and then of writing center OWLs in our own. So here’s to the 13th century duchess, to the OWLs who work so hard in the service of communication in the wizarding and witching world, and to all those writing center folk out there who respond to OWLs (student drafts).  You are all hereby honored today! Have a party!

10-17-08 Erratum: I don’t know why I felt so sure Theresa was the only female doctor of the church. I was reading excerpts from The Spiritual Brain tonight, and there was a section that mentioned that Catherine of Siena and St. Therese of Lisieux were also canonized as doctors. I knew that! I’d just forgotten. Ah, well… I guess chalk it up to me being only a protty who wouldn’t know any better. ;)

“Earth at Night” — is this cool or what?

Check out this “Earth at Night” image. Is that cool or what? (Click on it three times to enlarge it.)

Notice how the U.S. population noticeably decreases west of the Mississippi.  Them there mountains done got in the way, I guess. :)

And it’s interesting how population (well, population with electric light) concentrates on the coasts — in Europe and Florida, especially — like white lace on a blue dress.  Oh, and look at the white line along the Nile. That’s to be expected, I guess, but it’s interesting to see it so obviously.

And check out how bright Taiwan and Japan are. Those are some lit-up populated islands. Wow.

Pretty cool. But now, back to grading…