Friday, June 10, 2005

To Doobie Doobie Do List

Well, there’s one more thing to cross off the to-do list. I finished the paper that was due today. I’m going to ignore it for an hour or so and then do one more speed-proofread before emailing it in. It’s not as good as it should be, but it’s done, and the prof said specifically that he wasn’t looking for art, just a simple response from one of the seminar topics, so that’s what I’ve written. There is a value to being finished with that.

Now all I’ve got are the papers to grade. I’m tempted to just leave those till tomorrow. Next on the hit parade is for the couple of days that I have between the grades-due date and the start of my summer session of doom is to review for the class of doom. Like I said before, I’ve studied the subject, but it’s been awhile, and I have no doubt that I’m going to be well behind the game when the class starts up. I think I’ve still got some notes and paperwork from when I last studied this junk, but I’m sure that’s not going to be enough.

Actually, tomorrow night there is another end-of-class party given by a high muckity-muck that I like quite a bit. I’ve been to three of these department-ish parties in the past week or so. Gotta love the free food! For all of you higher up on the totem pole, make sure you keep your grad students fed. It gets embarrassing when we start passing out in the hallways. And it’s amazing what a grad student will do for a simple veggie platter (Get your minds out of the gutter).

No run today, because I’m a lazy piece of crap. No real new news there for those who know me, but probably not a shocker to those who don’t either. Maybe I’ll try to make it up tomorrow, and maybe not.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The CNN Newsworthiness Scale

This was on my mind when I woke up this morning, so I present to you:
The CNN newsworthiness scale:

  1. Larry King needs more airtime
  2. Missing Woman
    1. Plus if she'’s rich, white and pretty
    2. Minus if she'’s one of the uncounted Juarez missing brown women
    3. Calling her an '‘honor student'’ makes it more tragic.
    4. Extra plus if it leads to legal action (See #3)
  3. Lawsuits
    1. Plus for a famous person
      1. '‘famous'’ can be interpreted very liberally
      2. Extra plus if person has fans that can be expected to picket or conduct candle-light vigils
      3. Minus if famous person is being tried for war crimes in foreign lands (see #5)
    2. Minus for complicated cases involving difficult or confusing laws
      1. This can be overcome with superficial simplification if the person is famous enough.
    3. Plus for any case that allows for interviews of '‘legal experts' or '‘royal watchers'’
  4. Baby crisis
    1. Plus for trapped in well/hole
    2. Plus for visible (filmable) medical condition
      1. Plus if the condition is a little gross
      2. Minus if it'’s too gross
      3. Minus if the disease is difficult to understand
    3. Parents
      1. Plus for photogenic
      2. Plus for folksy accent
      3. Plus for heroic single parent
      4. Minus for other single parent
  5. International incident
    1. Plus if things blow up
    2. Plus if reporters get to wear flak jackets or helmets
    3. Plus if Americans involved
    4. Plus if Americans captured, injured or killed
    5. Plus if foreigners can be painted as '‘quaint'’
      1. British royals
      2. Cubans turning cars into boats to sail to Florida
    6. Plus if foreigners can be painted as cruel/illogical/strange
      1. Caning kid who keyed a bunch of cars
      2. Japanese salaryman as a robot
      3. Anything about Africa (note -– All stories about Africa must fall in this category)
    7. Plus if can be explained as terrorist or anti-terrorist activity
    8. Minus if story only involves foreigners
    9. Minus if it involves complicated, long standing international situations
    10. Minus if story involves too many people who don't speak English
      1. Plus for sexy accent
  6. Politics
    1. Plus if presentable as a binary argument by two genial but diametrically opposed figureheads
    2. Plus if involves sex
    3. Plus if can be explained by 'partisan'’ or '‘bipartisan'’
    4. Plus if allows for a split screen of three or more heads talking at once
    5. Minus if requires complicated nuanced understanding of issues
  7. Science
    1. Plus if tech can lead directly to:
      1. Cure for male sexual problems
      2. Cure for '‘incurable'’ disease
      3. Cars
      4. Faster/smaller computers/cell phones
    2. Minus if requires knowledge of math or science

A Postcard From The Mysterious East!

Thanks much to Profgrrrrl. I love getting postcards!

Postcard from Profgrrrrl

Postcard from Profgrrrrl

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My Brother Is Cooler Than Kottke

He sent me to this site

It's a 80's pop music quiz. I got an 81.5

Alright 1B*, you claimed that you were all over the 80's pop stuff. Here's your chance to prove it :) It's a bit long for a quiz though, and be careful of spelling!

Top Ten Things I Learned in the Service

Since finals are winding down, I can finally get a table at my café of joy again. After I’d been here a bit, an army sergeant came in to get coffee. He’s from the recruiting station that moved in a couple of doors down about a month ago. I did serve for awhile, and I’m glad I did, but I’m really of several minds about recruiting and the services in general. I’m trying to formulate a post about it for a later date, but I thought I would throw together a quick piece inspired by the sergeant who came in for coffee today.

Top Ten Things I Learned in the Service:

10. Only the Marines do that ‘A-Tin-Hut!” thing. The rest of us just enunciated.

9. Arranging decorative gravel is critical to the security of our nation.

8. There are some amazingly bright folks in the services.

7. If you hang from a pole long enough, you can stretch an inch. If you get taller, you are allowed to weigh several pounds more.

6. In real life, no one looks good in Navy whites.

5. Nobody pays attention to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

4. There are some amazingly dim folks in the services.

3. If you lift weights with your head, your neck will get bigger. If your neck gets bigger, you are allowed to weigh several pounds more.

2. A short haircut feels very nice in the summer.

1. Pushups are just the Drill Sergeants’ way of telling you that they care.


5k – 26:07!

Woohoo! Today’s run includes my first sub-5 minute kilometer of the season! Hopefully there are many more of those to come.

Running doesn’t always feel wonderful, but today the middle 3k felt like my legs were on those elliptical wheels and I was just rolling downhill. My strides seemed a little bit longer without effort and my breathing kept up with me without too much effort until the hilly part at the end. It was warm, but not hot and there was a little cool breeze. Even the little lizards came out of their holes and ran with me for a bit. Well, okay, they were probably running from me, but hey, I need my little illusions.

Very nice.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Another Fine Mess I’ve Gotten Me Into

I really must be a masochist. I guess all I need is to perfect the sadism part and I’ll they’ll give me a PhD and put me on the tenure track, right?

A professor I hadn’t dealt with before has discovered that I have done a certain kind of technical work in the past, and so she cornered me and asked if I would be around this summer.

Umm, sure…

So, she’s putting together an article, but wants some help on such and such a part. It’s nowhere near my field now, but I really enjoy it, so I agree to help her out on a small section, and if she likes my work then it will lead to more (paying!) projects for the article.


Didn’t I just explain that I was going to be horrifically busy this summer?

Why, yes. Yes, I did.

And now I’m adding another task(s) on top of all that?

Yes, Yes, I am.

Am I smoking crack?

Quite possibly.

Stay turned to Overread to witness the mental breakdown of your host! Same Overread-time, same Overread-channel!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Evil Idiots Continue to Try to Destroy My Childhood

A sequel to Sixteen Candles?

Make sure to check out the picture.

Also of interest: MTV still exists. Interesting.

To The Bestest Counter Clerk in All The Land:

When it comes down to it and a paper is on the line, I need chocolate. So, heaps upon heaps of thanks to the woman at the counter who explained that I could get 4 bite-size Peppermint Patties** for less than the price of 1 regular size, thus nearly doubling the sheer Peppermint Pattie acreage I get to enjoy for less money.

There are good people in the world. I know have proof. And Peppermint Patties.

** I didn't realize that the singular of 'patties' was 'pattie.' That doesn't seem right. Also, that web site is a little clinical, isn't it? And am I the only one a little scared by this guy?

Inflate to 100 PSI

It seems I’m spending more time reading newspapers that writing. Well, it’s because it’s true, I guess. This time I can blame Scrivenings for posting a link to a WaPo article on grade inflation. Frankly, it doesn’t say anything new, but it’s always interesting how these types of things are presented to the non-academic public.

The author cites Arthur Levine, president of Columbia University Teacher's College and an authority on grading in explaining the grade-pressure as stemming from the Vietnam era ‘get a good grade or go to war’ policy. That, plus the grad schools who only saw A’s and B’s as passing, led to the current hyper-fixation. Now it’s instilled from birth by ‘helicopter parents’ (they hover over their children) who want to make sure their children get into a ‘good’ school.

Overall, an interesting read, but you could get better stories in the blogoshpere :)

Interesting portions:

John Watson, who teaches journalism ethics and communications law at American, has noticed another phenomenon: Many students, he says, believe that simply working hard -- though not necessarily doing excellent work -- entitles them to an A. "I can't tell you how many times I've heard a student dispute a grade, not on the basis of in-class performance," says Watson, "but on the basis of how hard they tried. I appreciate the effort, and it always produces positive results, but not always the exact results the student wants. We all have different levels of talent."

And then there's consumerism, he says. Pure and simple, tuition at a private college runs, on average, nearly $28,000 a year. If parents pay that much, they expect nothing less than A's in return. "Therefore, if the teacher gives you a B, that's not acceptable," says Levine, "because the teacher works for you. I expect A's, and if I'm getting B's, I'm not getting my money's worth."

Rojstaczer agrees: "We've made a transition where attending college is no longer a privilege and an honor; instead college is a consumer product. One of the negative aspects of this transition is that the role of a college-level teacher has been transformed into that of a service employee."

Ain't Nobody Gonna Break-a My Stride

5k – 27:25

Not too bad. I think letting myself be lazy last Friday wasn’t the best idea as far as keeping my speed up goes, but hey! It felt good, and I have no regrets. Today was really warm and humid too, that always slows me down a lot. My graph shows that I was actually a little faster on the uphill areas, but I was slower on the long, flat stretches. I don’t really know what that means, but I love the fact that my watch tells me all this. I’m such a geek.

I'm probably going to run out of running-song allusions pretty quickly, aren't I?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Mutual of Omaha Presents: Wild Campus

The finals have been trickling in. I think I’ve got most of them now, but I haven’t started grading yet. Frankly, I have other priorities with closer deadlines.

I guess by now I should have learned to expect five or six late ones, but I never do. Somehow I always thought that getting the final in on time was a good thing. Don’t they want to be done with the class? Don’t they understand the damage that a late paper does to their grade? You might think so, but the college student is a curious beast.


· A handful of truly clever students have handed in all the work that they didn’t turn in during the class with their final. Surely I won’t notice.

· Email addresses suddenly vanish! The email accounts that used to be smooth as silk when their owners were asking for help on their work or pleading for extensions due to sick puppies or spontaneously combusting autos all suddenly bounce everything I send. Perhaps they didn’t want to know the key piece of info that could save their grade?

· My café, that I so recently praised, has been overrun. I can’t even get in the door anymore, and I don’t dare brave the outdoor seating area complete with chain-smokers and no power outlets. The local Barnes & Borders is crawling with students. They’ve camped out in the humor section, which is normal, but some have even set up laptop and latte in the literature section – a place they ordinarily would be caught dead perusing.

· I saw students going to class on Friday. That is the scariest thing of all.

Fear my snazzy bullet points.

Sleep? Sleep is For Undergrads

I think I’ve just made a decision for this summer. I had planned on taking an intro to photography class (black and white, film, developing and all that good stuff), but that class alone would keep me under the full-time requirement, so I was looking for another class to take.

I really wanted to take a phys-ed class (they don’t still call them that, do they?). I took a tennis class a year or so ago, and I really loved it, but wouldn’t you know it, the only things on offer were nutrition and sports injuries or some such. So I was sad, but still looking for something that would be helpful but not too intensive, because I still have a lot of technical work that I need to get done this summer.

Then I thought about it and decided, Hey! It’s not for nothing** that I’m a grad student! Why in the world would I even think about being able to sleep and rest up this summer? Sooooo, I’m taking a monster course. I won’t go into details, but it puts me well into full-time status, and it’s going to kick my ass. It’s in a field that I toyed with a while back, and I’m just discovering in my research that I should have stayed with it a bit longer. There’s a huge amount of class time, plus all sorts of outside work, and here’s the true joy, it doesn’t conflict with the photography class, so I get to take that one too!

Maybe my brain is a bit more addled than usual, but I’m really excited.

** I’m not really supposed to be able to use the phrase ‘not for nothing,’ because I didn’t grow up in a certain area, and I’m probably not even using it correctly, but I just think it’s hilarious. In the interests of comedy, I will brave grammatical embarrassment.

UPDATE: I was going to try to link to a site that explained the linguistic area of 'not for nothing,' but I couldn't find one. I did, however, find some truly wonderful quotes:

it is not for nothing that Jesus taught us to pray...

not for nothing is the technical term for love of gloom scotophilia.

It is not for nothing that Gildersleeve...refers to Persius' satire as a 'knotted thong'

Not for nothing did Anglo-Saxons live by the metaphysical concepts of honor...

Not for nothing was Derrida described as "a Jewish mystic"

ok, ok, I'm stopping now, but not before noting the internet is a dangerous tool, and that 'thong' is going to get this site more hits that I probably don't really care to get :)

You Didn't Expect You Could Get Out of Here With Your Wallet, Did You?

Here comes more bad news for folks who want to go to college. It's getting more expensive from a new and exciting angle. The New York Times is reporting that the amount a family must contribute to a child's tuition in order to qualify for financial aid is going up:

“Though the effects of the formula changes vary from state to state, The Times found that families with the same earnings and assets as in 2000 would typically have to pay an extra $1,749 before clearing the eligibility bar for financial aid in 2005, after adjusting for inflation.”

Some parents will have to contribute an extra $6000 before financial aid will kick in. Go ahead and check your own state with the little Javascript chart on the lefthand side of the article.

It gets better:

“Without exception, single parents experienced larger increases - typically $549 larger - in the amount they would have to pay before reaching the eligibility mark for financial aid. The reason is that the rules shield less of their savings from college expenses, on the theory that they will need less for retirement.”

It makes sense, you see, because single parents don’t need to save as much money for retirement. If you think about it, all the single parents you know are probably saving too much money anyway. Surely none of them have massive credit card bills, mortgages or car payments.

I guess I should feel lucky that by the time I went back to school, I was technically ‘financially independent’ (read: old), and so I could convince them that my family wasn’t able to contribute anything to my education. That kind of luck at least leads to being able to go to school. Anyway, as long as I stay in school, I don’t even have to look at those student loans, right?

According to the article, there are universities (notably Emory University among others with presumably deeper pockets than most) that are trying to make up the gap and keep students in school.

Luckily, the financial aid folks are sympathetic:

“‘I would not deny that this has impacted some people seriously," said Joe Russo, director of student financial services at the University of Notre Dame. "But nationally, has this caused enrollment to drop? It doesn't appear to have.’”

Lovely stuff in the New York Times.

First up is a very interesting study of class in the US. I’ve always been interested in this because most Americans tend to avoid class concepts. It’s also funny to me that on their chart I rank very high for education and very low for salary. Not surprising or anything, but funny. I also like the income mobility charts.

Next up is an apparently new column by the authors of Freakonomics, which I haven’t read yet, but sits patiently on my bookshelf. As I haven’t read it, I’ll leave others to explain it. The column in the Times is about a researcher who is trying to discover if capuchin monkeys can learn to use money.

Five points to anyone who immediately assumed that prostitution would follow soon after.

There are also a couple of videos and extra material here.