LFH: Day 9

by Sunita

I worked all day, which is not unusual for a Sunday when I teach on Mondays, but my work involved syllabus revision and figuring out Zoom via Canvas. So that was not usual. And there was a little bit of department and curriculum work, which we tried to do without involving the office staff since it was Sunday.

TheH had finished his syllabus revisions days ago and was working on the new requirement (worksheets to replace attendance tracking and reading response papers). I had put revisions off, in much the same way I’d put off setting up my home office (administrative work can come in very handy sometimes). But I was down to the deadline so I had to confront it. I pulled out my class files and looked at what I had scheduled for the six weeks after spring break.

I tackled my Political Protest class first because it was easier and it meets before Privacy (they both meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, one in the morning and one in the afternoon). I usually leave the last couple of weeks of reading open so that students can choose the case studies, and because over the last few years protests have occurred that we can follow in real time (e.g., the Dakota Pipeline protests). The main section after the break is titled “leaderless protests,” which are ones that don’t have a well-known charismatic figure like MLK, Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela at the forefront. After some thought, I decided to keep all the readings, which range from the Captain Swing riots in early 19thC England through anti-migrant riots in 2008 South Africa to Ferguson and Charlottesville here in the US. But I’m starting with some readings on what happens to protest when we all have to practice social distance and live so much of our social lives online. I added videos to supplement each reading and I’ll be making up PowerPoint slide decks with audio commentary to guide them.

My Politics of Privacy class was a little different. After spring break we get into the legal arguments, cases, and history, and there wasn’t a lot of open time or slack. But there was a bit of repetition, and a long article that I remembered had a lot of overlap with a piece by the same author we’d read earlier, so that could go. I pruned and got the readings down to nine sessions, including one that paralleled the first full session for Protest: what are the privacy implications of tracking people who contract COVID-19, and have our attitudes toward the privacy v. public benefits tradeoff changed in the past few weeks?

Once the syllabi were done I sent them off to my grad and undergrad assistants to review and turned to figuring out Zoom. I set up Zoom meetings for every class session and posted an announcement on Canvas with the link and other updates. A couple of students immediately tried to join the meeting, which was good because it told me the link worked, but bad because I had no idea what to do next. With TheH’s help I sort of figured it out, but we’ll see if I got it right today when we all check in.

We switched on the 5pm news to get updates and the weather forecast and discovered that our Dangerous Idiot President was holding a briefing. Which is fine, there was real news to be shared (including the mobilization of the National Guard by the Administration), but there were also the digressions and cheap shots at other politicians and countries and the now obligatory sucking-up comments by the other speakers. We muted the sound and then eventually turned off the TV altogether. I agree with the media commentators who say no one needs to hear this crap. What we should be hearing are clear, concise, and helpful updates and action items, but that’s more than we’re likely to get on a regular basis from this White House. The briefings doing double-duty as both informational sessions and substitutes for the DIP’s beloved live campaign events, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the timing was chosen to get maximum coverage. Someone has been watching Gov. Cuomo’s much more appropriate and useful briefings and taking the wrong message from them.

We put on music and turned to dinner preparation, which was minimal because I was assembling various bits into a mostly new one-dish meal. I had mujadara in the freezer and the leftover bottled pasta sauce in the fridge, along with a partial box of farfalle; together they provided the ingredients for a modified version of koshari. I was a little dubious about the pasta sauce, but its slightly sour undertone and the depth added by the anchovies made an effective substitute for the vinegar-infused flavor of a traditional koshari tomato sauce. TheH and I agreed that it worked well, and not just because it only took 20 minutes to put together! We’ve been craving carbs a lot this week, which is probably a good thing since beans are becoming a favored pantry item. I see a lot of Indian dal in our future.

Neither of us got out for exercise yesterday, but hopefully after my second class I’ll be able to do something. I’m sure I’ll need it. I can’t believe it’s only been a week, and there are so many weeks to go. STL’s Covid cases are starting to increase, but we’re still near the bottom of the jump.