Friday, March 28, 2008

Overheard in NY

The Creationists Are Going to Love This One

Ghetto girl: Hey, look! What's that? I think it's an egg!
Friend: What the hell?! What's wrong with you? Monkeys don't lay eggs!
Ghetto girl: ... Well, how was I supposed to know that?!

--Bronx Zoo, Jungle World

Overheard by: cracking up behind them


So, I got a comment on the post today from my time in South Africa last year. The comment said: "Such a jaded person should be left under their rock and NEVER taken out - not one good thing to say - how sad!" and was left by "anonymous" (of course).

I thought that was an interested comment as I remember have a quite good time that day. I got out of Pretoria and got a chance to see some very important site in the general area. Maybe I did highlight the more unfortunate things that happened to me, but that makes for good reading.

But on the off chance all the people who I know read (yes, all three of you) think that I am jaded and should be left with mold spores under a rock, be sure that I am not. I am maybe a little bitter and cynical, but I do know how to have a good time and enjoy life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol

I admit it. I like it. I watch it.

Something that I find really irritating is when the judges tell a contestant that they are being "original" when they cover a cover of a song. Example? Tonight, David Cook sang Chris Cornell's version of Michael Jackson's song "Billie Jean". Ryan Seacrest mentioned it briefly during his intro of David, but the judges subsequently ignored it.

Hello? Not original. Chris Cornell's version was original. David Cook's version is a retread of someone else's originality. I don't have a problem with that in general - just that the judges praise originality when there is none.

This happened a couple of years ago when Chris Daughtry sang the Live cover of the Johnny Cash song "I Walk the Line". Chris sounded good, and it was a good choice, but not original.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to the Chris Cornell version.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kitty Love!

Happiness is watching your cats bat at each other through a chair slip cover. Hee hee!


It is midterm season, and I have elected to punish myself this year by giving short answer exams (rather than multiple choice). I have done this partially to make up for the fact that I have given them no writing assignments. Normally, I assign either two short (3-5 pages) papers or one longer paper (5-7 pages). But I just couldn't bring myself to read them this semester. It is a soul destroying, disheartening process. So I went with the short answer/essay exams.

I realized after I turned in one of my exams to be copied that there was a term leftover from a previous edition of the exam that I didn't go over specifically in class. Because I am fair, I told my students that that question would be extra credit. When I was reading through the exams, I noticed that one of my students had an extremely technical answer. In fact, it was so technical, I had to look it up to see if it was correct or not. And upon looking it up on teh interwebs, what did I find? The answer was copied from a Wikipedia article.


I am used to getting papers plagiarized almost exclusively from wikipedia entries, but this is the first time a student has done this on an exam. This student must have used a blackberry under his desk to surf the internet and look up the answers. As a professor, what am going to do about this? I mean, I know what to do with this student - he fails the midterm and will likely fail the class. But what do I do in future exams? I am not allowed to collect their cell phones prior to class because of insurance purposes. I guess I will have to have them leave their cellphones on their desks in a place where I can see them.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One of those days.

I am still angry about that article. The Washington Post did a follow up interview with Charlotte Allen to allow her to clarify her position and I couldn't even finish reading it before I got so angry that I had to close my browser. Note to the WaPo: if you are going to publish an oped that is a "satire" of misogyny, then don't let a misogynist write it. Furthermore, if you are going to continue to call it satire, don't allow her to participate in a Q&A that does nothing but point out that it is NOT satire, but actually what the writer believes. Publishing a piece like that in a respected newspaper gives Allen's word weight that they simply don't deserve, no matter how she originally intended the article.

* * *

Yesterday was definitely one of those days. I was fighting a cold all weekend. By Monday, I was a puddle of phlegmatic goo. My students have their first midterm today, so I trudged out to campus to teach and answer questions on Monday. I told them from the outset that I would be cutting class short because I wasn't feeling well and I heard some muted cheers. Thanks, guys. I feel like crap, so you win. See if you get a curve on your exam.

Because of my extreme sick and tired-ness, I definitely overslept my alarm on Tuesday. My eyes opened at 8:54 am when I was supposed to be teaching at 9:10am. I quickly threw on some clothes and some contacts and ran out the door and onto the subway. I made it to class with no breakfast and feeling slightly smelly by 9:25. Clearly, I rode the elevator up with one of my students who always wanders in late and I thought to myself how much I miss the days when I could wander into class late or opt just to skip it. Sadly, as the instructor, those options are now barred to me.

For class, we were doing a modelling exercise involving these little plastic beads. The last person to use them did not close the bags tightly so as I pulled them out of the drawer, they spilled out all over the floor. At that point, there really wasn't much that could happen to make a day worse. But then it started to rain on me on my walk home from class. And then I realized that I submitted the wrong exam to be copied for my Wednesday class.

On the upside, last night I got a good night sleep for the first time in several days and I am feeling much better.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Seeing Red

My friend's boyfriend pointed me in the direction of this article in the Washington Post entitled "We Scream, We Swoon, How Dumb Can We Get" written by a woman ... against women.

I don't know who this Charlotte Allen is, but she clearly has serious penis envy. And I don't know what's wrong with the Washington Post that they would publish such total drivel. If you can't be bothered to read the article, it's all about: the idiocy of women who support Obama; Clinton as a poor candidate because of her poor choices - chalked up to her being a woman, of course; and the supposed biological differences between men and women. I actually read the article twice because I thought she was being ironic at first. But on second read, I realized that this chick was totally serious.

I don't know what makes me angrier. Her idea that the stupid things men do are rooted in some kind of ancestral "save and protect" mentality or that women are biologically preprogrammed to be nurturing mothers and make a home. Clearly I must be some kind of genetic anomaly because frankly, children annoy me and the only thing I am truly nurturing towards are my fish and my cat.

Her arguments don't even hold up - she claims that women have been verbal skills because we had to be able to "remember where the berries were" during our hunting and gathering days and men have better math and spacial relationship skills because "they had to be able to map out the trajectory of a spear." Um, remembering the locations of food patches is a cognitive mapping skill and would also fall under navigating spacial relationships.

She ends her article with this:
"So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim."

Even if that is meant to be ironic, it still validates all of the ridiculous, outdated stereotypes present today against women.

I am so angry I can't even continue to articulate. Read the article. Be outraged.

EDIT: Apparently it is tongue-in-cheek. But it should have been clearer.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Last Weekend

I made a new friend. He asked me to come over to his place and takes some photos of his zoo. Here are the highlights: