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"I want to complain about my grade in assignment 3. The question was very misleading. It said ‘Assume the total liabilities is $3,000’ and I lost marks because I assumed total liabilities was four German pfennigs and a ladder."
"I’m not sure why I lost marks for task (a). The marker comment says ‘You were asked to calculate total investment income but instead you drew a picture of a dog in a parachute.’ Can someone help? What did I do wrong"
"Question 4 says we need to date and initial the bottom of all working papers that we’ve worked on. Whose initials do we use? Our own? Or the checkout lady at the local grocery store? Because I’ve forgotten her last name. Her first name is Sheila. No, wait, that’s my first name. This course is so hard!"
Without wanting to make any accusations, I present the following:
I went to University with a guy called Dave. One of his nicknames was “Flak Magnet”, because due a combination of arrogance, idiocy and a lack of self-awareness, he would attract all mockery and disdain in the area.
Dave was interested in politics. Or rather, he was interested in achieving some kind of political office, as this was a stepping stone of his ultimate goal of ‘feeling important’.
His political leanings were an uncanny mix of deep-seated subconscious conservativism (caused by his vaguely upper-class upbringing) coupled with the unwavering belief that he was some kind of left-wing radical (caused by a teenager-like desire to distance himself from his parents). As you may imagine, however, it’s rather difficult to take someone seriously when they claim to be a socialist while espousing the opinion that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to do Computing degrees because they can’t afford computers.
As a first year student, Dave’s desire for office led him to nominate himself as an independent candidate for the Student Union Environmental Awareness Secretary in the annual elections. Calling himself “Captain Planet,” Dave based his campaign on the claim that there was too much litter on our campus and more bins should be installed everywhere.
Possibly the main reason that Dave wasn’t elected (other than the fact that he called himself Captain Planet) was that a cursory walk around our campus would have shown him that litter was not a problem. Indeed, the litter bins on every second lamp-post (which some may justifiably call garbage overkill) ensured that our University was a beacon of cleanliness, and not the fetid mass of pestilence his posters would have us believe.
Why did Dave choose to base his campaign on litter and bins? My guess is that he did no research, didn’t think about what was actually needed, and instead just said what he thought someone seeking election to an environmental position should say. He wasn’t looking to be the Environmental Awareness Secretary of our university; he was acting like someone looking for the position in some imaginary idealised platonic ideal of a university.
In other words, Dave wasn’t saying what he believed. He was saying what he thought someone in that position would believe. “Today I’m playing the role of an environmental spokesperson, so I’m going to be concerned about litter!”
Now, whenever I hear one of the Republican candidates spouting claptrap like how it’s elitist to want people to have college degrees, or that contraception leads to children being born out of wedlock, I can’t help but think of Dave. And I wonder if his propensity to base his political ambitions on demonstrably false premises, giving no actual thought to people’s actual needs, saying what he thinks people in his position should say, was actually way ahead of his time.
I recently looked up Dave, since it’s ten years since I heard from him. He was a candidate for Labour MP in the last General Election, losing a safe Conservative seat to a woman who is now famous for trying to get abortion banned in the UK.