School Spirit: The Lab Specimen Speaks

I’ve been a bit distracted the last week or so, and my blogging has suffered. That’s because one of you readers (you know who you are, wavemaker) tossed a bomb in my lap, and I’ve been thinking how the hell to defuse it.

Wavemaker, when he’s not being a moderate pain in the butt in comments sections in blogs, teaches at Tufts University. He just finished up a class on “Politics and the Blogosphere,” and for the last class, he thought he’d give his students a bit of a treat — he’d see if he could bring in a real-live blogger or two to put on a “trained pony” show, a lab specimen they could poke and prod at and get a little practical experience with the theories they’ve been studying.

Here’s the description of the class:

In recent years, American political parties and candidates have become increasingly adept at using the “Blogosphere” both to promote their ideas and campaigns and to raise money. The blogosphere has also become increasingly influential in reporting news of political issues and controversies. As major daily newspapers lose circulation, television news programs lose viewers, and mass media competes with the internet for political advertising, will American political activists’ reliance on the blogosphere continue to increase, and what are the implications to the nature of political discourse, campaigning and the electoral system as a whole?

The goal of this course is to examine the nature and content of political news in the main stream media and the blogosphere, to compare and contrast the objectivity, thoroughness, tone, and accuracy of the news reported, and to draw some hypotheses and conclusions regarding the possible impacts of the current trends. It is also a goal of the course to teach the students how to read political news critically and to assess political information objectively.

Well, I was fortunate enough to be culled from the herd, and got an invitation. It involved about a 100-mile one-way trip and the class was scheduled to run until 9:00 p.m., but luckily I had a place I knew I could crash just outside Boston, and that made it considerably easier.

Luckily for me, wavemaker managed to line up two other bloggers to show up, so I wasn’t the sole exhibit. Charley from Blue Mass Group and EaBo Clipper from Red Mass Group also fell victim to wavemaker’s devious exploitation of our craving for attention and acceptance.

It was great fun. EaBo and Charley make a great Mutt-and-Jeff team, alternately sparring and patting each other on the back, and it’s clear they are rivals, but not enemies. And Charley was stuck between EaBo and me, meaning that in the heart of a college campus in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, he was stuck between two conservatives (by Massachusetts standards, I’m a knuckle-dragging right-wing neanderthal wingnut) who not only outnumbered him 2-1, but outweighed him by about 3-1. I’m not sure how long it will take him to recover from the trauma — if ever.

The students were great, too. They seemed genuinely appreciative that I didn’t go for authenticity and show up in my pajamas (well in my case, underwear, robe, and slippers), and they had some great questions and observations.

I was particularly impressed with one student whose name, I am ashamed to admit, I did not catch. He said he’d not only read and enjoyed my recent piece on economics, but had actually quoted it in a paper. He asked me a couple of things about it that made me realize I’d left a few things unsaid, and said a few other things mildly incorrectly. Other questions got me to do some serious thinking, and I think I can garner at least one more posting out of what they asked us.

I can’t say enough what a great time I had, and what a tremendous boost for my ego it was to be brought in to a college class as an “expert” on anything. Thanks, wavemaker, EaBo, Charley, and the students.

Now that I’ve gotten this over with, I think I can get back to regular blogging…

Kudos To Senator Clinton
This time, they're REALLY going to vote. For real this time. Seriously.