Favorite Signifying Nothing whipping boy Trent Lott has gotten a second opportunity to demonstrate the validity of the Peter Principle thanks to the 25 clueless senators who elected him Senate minority whip for the 110th Congress, selecting him over Lamar! Alexander. Senate leadership positions on either side of the aisle aren’t exactly hotbeds of political power (thanks largely to the fundamental institutional feature of the Senate—the filibuster—that distinguishes it from the House), so the substantive effect of Lott being in the formal leadership will be approximately zero, but in terms of symbolism I can’t say I can conceive of a choice from the 49-member caucus that is worse than Lott. I mean, that would be like the Democrats appointing a former segregationist as president pro tempore of the Senate or something.
The small bit of silver lining: the Porkbusters weenies are restless. Heh.
Winthrop University professor Scott Huffmon (better known as “Frequent Commenter Scott” around these parts) recently investigated the South Carolina public’s acquaintance, or lack thereof, with the blogosphere as part of the first Winthrop Poll of state residents; the results, as reported at LaurinLine, were quite interesting, with over 2/3 of the state’s public claiming familiarity with the concept of a “blog.”
For the first time in my life, the spirit moved me to create flyers for the Congress class that I am teaching next semester. I’m not entirely comfortable with advertising “no prerequisites” as a selling point, but then again there are no prerequisites—indeed, I don’t think our intro to American politics class, despite its popularity with undergrads, is actually required for anything at all in our curriculum at present.
The next step is to finalize a syllabus; I have an outline that I think will work well, but I’d like to nail down the dates for each topic and the content of the assignments.
Incidentally, I haven’t taught a MWF class since my days as a graduate instructor—if even then—and next semester I’ve lucked into two of them (Congress and intro). I am not at all a fan of the 50-minute class, and it's going to play havoc with my in-class exams in intro, but I suppose I will adapt. At least methods is only scheduled MW…