A New Course Syllabus
(Originally ran on August 26th, 2002)
A while back, I was complaining to my friend and mentor, Dr. Venison Skidmore, about some of the requirements spelled out on one of several course syllabi I had received at the beginning of the new semester. I felt put out by what I thought were the unreasonable demands of one of my new professors. It seemed reasonable that I would seek some sympathy from the man that had taught me so many of life's important lessons, such as how to compose an academic essay, and where to find the best Al Gore jokes on the internet.
After I had ranted for a time, Dr. Skidmore put a consoling arm around my shoulder, smiled knowingly, and looked down at me with a twinkle in his eye. "Josh," he said, "you are heinous, ungrateful wretch, good for little more than to run errands and serve as the butt of various cruel jokes. Now get me a Dr. Pepper."
It was his sensitivity that drew me to this great man, and after I had retrieved his beverage of choice, he began to tell me of a class he had taken years ago, while still an undergraduate at the Reginald Cortez Academy of Arts. While studying Political Science, Dr. Skidmore took a course in Totalitarian Dictatorship. He showed me his course syllabus, which he conveniently had carried in his breast pocket for the past twenty-five years.
Here is the bulk of that syllabus. Maybe it will make your load seem a bit lighter.
Political Science 5850:
Totalitarian Dictatorship and you.
(Cross-listed as Physical Education 1220: Endurance and Electrical Stimulus)
Instructor: Dr. Lenny Beeman, Ph.D. Health and Animal Sciences
OBJECTIVE: To give the student an exposure to Totalitarian Dictatorship and other similarly oppressive types of government systems.
ADDING: There will be no adds allowed to this course. In fact, the first two weeks will be a concentrated effort to reduce class numbers from the original twenty-five to a more feasible six. Weeding techniques such as uphill lawn mowing, extreme verbal abuse, and timed drinking from high-pressure water hoses will be employed.
Introduction to Totalitarian Dictatorship, 3rd edition, Budd and Simpson
Theory and Practice of Totalitarian Dictatorship, 4th edition, Lady Brown
Throwing Parties as a Totalitarian Dictator, Julia Child
The Prince, Machiavelli
The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
Repressing Religion the Fun Way, 4th Edition, Sir Arnie Zipp
Benito and me: Memoirs of Mussolini's College Roommate, Mike, Michael Dubek. Introduction by Mel Brooks
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
Other texts as needed
HOMEWORK: Homework assignments will be given at random throughout the semester. Certain projects will be given telepathically from the mind of the instructor. Each student will be responsible to turn in no fewer than fifteen major papers during the course of the class, but any paper exceeding 73 pages in length will not be accepted. Each student will be required to spend no fewer than two full weeks on an objective study of the foreign nation of their choice. This experience will serve as the source for a final project, which will include a paper, an oral presentation, and a diagram of each countries system of government modeled in blocks of cheese.
GRADING: Grading will be assigned through a combination of graded standardized tests, certain demonstrations of physical strength, a rhyming exercise, and the appropriate phase of the moon.
ATTENDANCE: Full attendance is mandatory in this course. Anyone missing class will be shot promptly upon their return. Student Athletes will be granted occasional excused absences to compensate for extenuating circumstances, such as an out-of-town game or an upset stomach. They will also be shot upon their return.
PHILOSOPHY: This is a tough and demanding course, but one that will prove invaluable to your understanding of our modern society. For the first six weeks I will be vacationing in the Far East, taking in the sights and compiling research for my newest book, an in-depth look at the Japanese auto industry. My teaching assistant, Mr. Otto, will be enforcing all deadlines and handling all lectures until my return. You may recognize Mr. Otto from his career in professional wrestling, where he was known as The Irrepressible Human Odor.