The cremation of angels

Although my own writing hasn’t even gotten prominent enough to be judged one way or another by anybody, I’ve somehow stumbled into a job as the final judge of little recourse for the writing of a bunch of college students. Teachers have different ideas about how to do this. A friend of mine says he likes to pick up a paper and say that it feels like it weighs like about a 17 out of 20. Personally, I think the only totally fair system is to beat students at random back into the state of unconsciousness I just woke them up from. Failing that, the only right-thinking way is to evaluate them on the basis of how many trees deserved to die to produce this shit. Usually it’s no more than a couple of twigs, which isn’t so bad in China, since the composition paper generally looks like students wrote on the membrane of an egg. I’ve also thought about just marking them down based on how many vowels they use, since I consider those blasphemous. And no one should get higher than a 70%, since if the Communist Party is only giving Mao himself a C- that’s got to be the upper limit.

Unfortunately, my institute has some quality-control rubbish called “marking meetings” where they try to ensure we are all grading papers according to the same standard, as if it weren’t all subjective anyway, as if, as if, as if… On the other hand, almost every expatriate in China seems to get drawn at one time or another into an interminable discussion about the beauty standards of different cultures. I think marking meetings would have a more useful application here in getting us to all agree on who’s beautiful and who’s a dog. It would be great to see people negotiating over half a point here and a quarter of a point there: “We have to agree that she passes, but the range can only be 11.5 to 12, nothing higher!”

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