One of the ironies of the low quality of work that one often receives from college students is that they often put a tremendous amount of effort into attempting to get a higher grade after the fact. On more than one occasion I have told a student sincerely, "If you had put as much effort into doing the assignment as you have put into lobbying for a higher grade, this conversation would be unnecessary." It might sound sarcastic but it's absolutely true. In many cases they put a ton of effort into getting a good grade – they just don't allocate the effort wisely. Do it before the paper is due and it will benefit your grade a lot; afterward the same amount of effort is likely to accomplish nothing.

I mention this because I often wonder why police can't devote as much effort to doing their job properly as they do into covering up the things they do wrong. Some good old fashioned investigative reporting has uncovered a trail of Wikipedia edits on entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and other people killed by NYPD officers over the years, all coming from 1 Police Plaza. Editing Wikipedia is not the most labor intensive process on Earth (although honestly the more active pages are almost impossible to edit these days unless you've been involved for a long time) but there are quite a few of them spread out over time. If only there were something more useful to do with that time than search the internet and attempt to whitewash facts about things the department has done that cast it in a negative light.

Maybe this is for the best. They'd probably just do more stop-and-frisk if they didn't have the internet to keep them busy sometimes.


  • It's the same thing with huge corporations and PR departments. Maybe if you spent some time and money not doing terrible things, you wouldn't need a PR department to smooth things over for you.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    I had a student once who stopped coming to class after about the fifth section. Sat the tests and performed miserably, as one would expect. She came up to me just before the end of the semester and said she had been dealing with some sort of unspecified and unsubstantiated personal issue and can I please give her a passing grade so she can graduate on time? Uh…no, I can't, but if you had brought this up earlier maybe we could have worked something out.

    So she had to retake the class the next semester. And did the exact same thing. And didn't even finish it the second time through.

    I'm not sure which was a lie, that she was dealing with a personal issue, or that she needed the class to graduate.

  • A joke I used to tell first day of class (after explaining that I NEVER give "extra-credit" work)…

    A beautiful young co-ed comes into the prof's office wearing a low-cut sweater. She leans towards the prof and breathlessly says "Oh, professor – I would do ANYTHING to pass this class." The prof licks his lips nervously, leans in towards her and whispers quietly "anything?" She leans in even further (cleavage, what not) and says "Absolutely anything!" He looks nervously right and left, leans in almost touching her and whispers "Will you………study?"

  • c u n d gulag says:


    As for the police, after they needlessly choked that poor (need I say, black?) man on Staten Island, NY Cities Mayor mildly criticized the NYPD and the cops got offended and did a work stoppage, and stopped hassling (mostly minority) people over stupid shit.

    And you know what?
    They didn't help themselves any, because the crime rate stayed low.
    They thought they'd teach NY City and it's liberal Mayor a lesson.
    Instead, they were schooled! *

    And then, the head of the NYPD called for more police officers as part of any settlement.

    *Not that towns and cities don't need cops. They just need them to remember that their mission is to 'help serve and protect.'
    NOT, to hassle and drum-up some extra cash for the municipalities coffers!!!
    I'm lookin' at you, Ferguson, MO!!!
    And all of you other little towns who do the same damn thing!!!

  • c u n d gulag says:


    The NYPD didn't do themselves any "FAVORS!"

    Message to self:
    Please finish your cup of coffee, before commenting!!!

  • The same thing happens at work. For years, I had to deal with a cow orker who spent so much effort explaining why the things we needed him to do were not his responsibility, that he probably would have expended less time and energy if he had simply done the work.

  • And yet, when college students are given the option of learning for mastery (taking exams until they get the grade they want), most student's performance doesn't change. When I've taught I've basically laid out the rules and when they ask for extra credit whatever, I smile and remind them of the rules.

  • @ Jimcat

    I don't know what a "cow orker" is, but it sounds like the kind of person that I'd be fed up with too.

  • In the defense of the delusional type of college student, at least they spend less than a year and maybe a few tens of thousands of dollars to find out that they weren't going to get what they wanted the way they wanted to do it.

    How much does the average GOP Presidential candidate spend? Or John Edwards?

    An awareness of national politics has given me a deep sense of forgiveness of my own personal failings and the failings of those around me. Just so many orders of magnitude.

  • Let’s not overlook that the real benefit of effort expended before the test is learning. The grade is just a pat on the head (or a kick in the butt). Similarly, proper police work done before the SHTF is to serve and protect. Media management afterwards is merely CYA.

  • @Gulag

    The mission of the police was never to serve and protect anyone but the one percent. Police forces started as slave patrols, strike breakers, head busters, etc. — all for the benefit of the one percent. It was never about the rest of us, except to keep us in our place.

  • Excellent post, Ed; short but just as good as any.

    @Ed and c u n d and anyone else: Can I give a related book recommendation?

    "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty. If you haven't heard already. An up-to-the-minute satire about racism and everything else in our dysfunctional country, by a comedic genius. It's better than ice cream. Laugh-out-loud without being IN THE LEAST escapist. Lotsa cuss words, n-words—but that wouldn't put Ed off, I know.

    "…'The Sellout,' a masterful work that establishes Beatty as the funniest writer in America." —The Guardian, Elizabeth Donnelly

    "'The Sellout' isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century." —npr, Michael Schaub

    Think Ishmael Reed on steroids, a young, black Woody Allen or even Nathaniel West. If you're going to satirize present-day race relations, you better be ferocious. For Beatty that's not only easy but probably therapeutic.

    Good line from a review: "Mr. Beatty can turn a sacred cow into hamburger with just one sentence."

    By the way, I don't work for the publisher, just want to share my enthusiasm.

  • Freecookies says:

    It warms my cynical heart to know that most students think grades are negotiable, the same way you'd haggle for a car. Seems like they've been trained before to view things this way. I wonder who did that training? I'm sure you haven't but someone did.

    I would argue that it's less effort than actually studying most of the time. I doubt they spend 5 hours a week after the test in your office, haggling with you over the grade. I would assume that it takes about an hour's worth of homework per workday to master the material enough to adequately pass the tests?

    So if they haggle with you for what 30 mins after the test and they're able to get a C out of it, then they're time ahead that they can spend on hooking up and getting drunk presumably.

    Whatever else you can call a student, they are definitely most reward for least effort creatures. You just have to find the rewards to match the efforts? Makes me glad I'm not a teacher.

  • Freecookies is onto something: the kids these days are so used to their parents making everything better for them after whatever shitty thing they did, that they just think that's what you do. Thanks parents, for foisting your ill-prepared-for-life-and-reality special snowflakes on us.

    And now, because I was too busy yesterday:

    Three pieces of rope ride into town. They're mighty thirsty. There are plenty of saloons in this town, but one problem: all of them have signs posted that they won't serve rope. They get toward the end of town and they come up with a plan. One of them ties a knot at the top of his head, gets off his horse and saunters into the last saloon, bellying up to the bar. The bartender comes over and looks him up and down with narrowed eyes. He snarls "you a piece of rope, cuss? We don't serve no rope in this saloon." The rope looks him in the eye and says "Nope. I'm afraid not."
    Badump bump.

  • My mother spent so much time and effort pursuing free handouts/programs for "low income" people that she could have stopped BEING low income had she put those efforts into finding and working at a full-time job. I grew up believing that "low income" was part of my identity, like "white," "male," and "nerdy." Now I make a living that puts me solidly in the top 5% and am married to someone who does the same. Believe me, this is a lot better.

  • Andrew,

    Is your wife either a) as delusional as you are or b) aware of your mediocre effort at performance art on the internet?

  • Skills are developed for negotiating all throughout childhood from both personal practice and observation. Skills have not been developed for writing a paper. Thus.

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