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A perspicuous notation

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 11.06.10

I hate it when my GOAT (U+1F410) eats a ROASTED SWEET POTATO (U+1F360) and leaves a PILE OF POO (U+1F4A9) in the LOVE HOTEL (U+1F3E9), don't you?


 

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Twisted psycho

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.05.10

Here, have a grisly, sensationalistic story that I read five days ago and have had trouble shaking ever since. (Usually lurid stories don't go over well with you guys, but I haven't got good post ideas, and this totally got under my skin.) Basically, this person gets their kicks by dropping in on suicide chat rooms, befriending people there, and encouraging them to go through with killing themselves. Currently in trial under "assisting suicide" laws.


 

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Facemash

Posted by Becks
on 11.04.10

Hey! Remember this real estate site that was super interesting and helpful? Yeah, it's no longer a real estate site. They've turned off the actually helpful features of their site so they can throw all of their weight behind being "Facebook for real estate", which I can't imagine anyone wants.

You know what, business folks? Your customers want you to provide them a service or value, not be the new Facebook for Whatever. No, you do not need to add social networking to your timesheet application. Stop it.


 

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So some have thought

Posted by Ben
on 11.04.10


 

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The silver lining is in the tablescape.

Posted by Apostropher
on 11.04.10

Sure, Tuesday evening was an avalanche of bad news, and perhaps the worst news was the number of state legislatures that were taken by bad ol' Republicans just in time for gerrymandering redistricting season. Have another boulder, Sisyphus! On the other hand,

What I'm trying to tell you is that New York's First Lady could qualify as an honorary drag queen, so in case I haven't already made it abundantly clear before, this is totally my face right now. And it should totally be your face as well, New York/America.

Brace yourself, Albany! Halloween is going to the next level at the governor's mansion for the foreseeable future.


 

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The place where the local minimum of my ambition meets the local minimum of my job requirements.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.04.10

I told the following over on my personal blog, but perhaps it makes for discussion over here:

A student interviewed me about my career path for his Theology class. One of the questions was something like, "How does your career reflect your vocation or calling?" (At Heebie U, we are really big into vocations and callings. Most speeches that anyone ever gives include the quote 'The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet'." That, and "You teach the students you have, not the students you wish you had.")

My answer was: "Well, I feel like I'm making a difference in people's lives, but not too big a difference, because that would be too stressful." Then I felt uncomfortable because my answer will show up in his paper, so I kept talking: "What I mean is, I'm not a social worker or public defender or social activist. I'm a math teacher. If I do an absolutely terrible job, some people have a bad math class. And if I do a great job, so people have a really great math class. And that's about as much responsibility as I want."

I'm just saying that there is definitely a case to be made for medium-low ambition. On the other hand, I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here. (I do like my job a lot, which makes me very lucky in the grand scheme of things. I know that.)


 

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OPINIONATED GRANDPA

Posted by Alameida
on 11.03.10

I wish to reproduce this comment to the NYT Well blog in full, that we may all consider its perfection, yea even unto the crucial misspellings:

I JUST CANT UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DONT LIKE VEGETABLES BUT THEN AGAIN WE WERE TOO POOR TO AFFORD MUCH MEAT-THE MORE BITTER THE BETTER. GREAT FOR CHEWING SATISFACTION. BEATS EATING PAP LIKE PUDDINGS, ICE CREAM. ETC. STOP ANALYZING AND JUST PUT THEM IN FRONY OF YOUR CHILDREN WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THATS THEIR FOOD-MEAL PERIOD -- Louis Leggiero

So much wisdom there. I've decided to deal with the political situation in the following ways: thinking, well, they were going to get the house, it sort of doesn't matter by how much, and smugly noting that the Democrats retained control of the senate. I'm not allowed to drink, so you have to cut me some slack here.

And since my family is coming here to Singapore for Christmas for the first time I am very excited about that. But they want to take a side trip and it's too late to plan things! And my brother's in Africa somewhere and not returning my texts, so he's no help. The places I wanted to go (Victoria Hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam or Phi Phi Island Village) are totally full. Now I want to see if we can charter a boat to sail us from Phuket to those islands in the south of Burma that are rarely visited. Wait, am I just being a persistent asshole here? I haven't totally solved the orgasm problem, if that makes it any better. How can I wrap this up--I know, approving link to WWTDD. Yeah, fuck Alyson Hannigan and her sock-monkey child.


 

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Comfort food.

Posted by Stanley
on 11.03.10

It's not entirely clear to me why a recipe for Pasta alla Puttanesca (and I hasten to note: not the Wiki-specific spaghetti alla puttanesca; this one calls for linguine, but same idea, more or less) would call specifically for niçoise olives. But it does.

Also, I left out the anchovies on purpose and the garlic by accident (meaning: home from the store and, shit, forgot the garlic). But it was still quite good. If I did it again, the only thing I'd change is adding a metric shit ton of garlic.


 

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Exploiting the workers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.02.10

A friend of mine adjuncts at one of the colleges in this region. She has Wednesday evening classes, so she called up to see if classes were cancelled the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. She was told:
1. Classes were not being officially cancelled
2. Her pay will be docked if she cancels class, and
3. She'll have to pay for a sub. They do supply a sub list, however.

Practically speaking, obviously the answer is "Don't ask permission next time." But as a policy, double-charging someone for cancelling class the night before a national holiday is pretty outrageous.


 

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His Plan to Improve the Economy does not cost Billions

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 11.01.10

Meet candidate Dr. Maximo Gomez Nacer, of the Gravity Buoyancy Solution Party:

The following products have been designed by our company.

Water pump powered by the weight of water
This pump manufactured with plastic and other low weight materials pumps one cubic meter of water to one height of one meter in one second. (representing ten kilowatts hours- 10 kWh- or what is the same $864.00 per month by paying the current average energy cost of 0.12 cents per kilowatts hour. USPTO12/229,619

Gravity generator powered by solid mass
This generator of electricity uses the buoyancy force to move masses to the top of a water column. The taller the column the larger the amount of power that is generated because the masses acquire higher velocity. Then the force of gravity allows to accelerate the masses in free fall. Attached you will find some drawings of this early design. USPTO 12/074,249

Device to provide mechanical advantage to the real horse power (Horse Speeding Vehicle):
Simple mechanical device designed to use horses power- particularly in rural areas- in order to pump water, generate electricity, plow the fields or even as an improved mode of transportation. USPTO: 10/348,380 USPTO 10/747,431 USPTO: 10/808, 558 USPTO: 11/189,459 PCT/US2003/033260

The founder of the Company is a medical doctor that has been exposed to the realities of our medical system.

The Director of the company wants to vindicate his good name.

Please visit us regularly to find out our next press articles, and upcoming events for the month of February

My Plan to Improve the Economy does not cost Billions.
By Dr. Maximo Gomez Nacer


 

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How I wish I spent my Halloween

Posted by Ben
on 11.01.10

In a dingy basement in Philadelphia listening to a Gang of Four cover band.

Notice that the audience is singing along. I tell you what, this town has nothing for me.


 

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Everything is overrated except Elvis and chocolate

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 11.01.10

Holy shit. This reads like a Twilight Zone version of the blog.


 

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Like a 90s sitcom

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.01.10

I've gotten into the habit of taking a quick nap under my desk. It's wonderful.


 

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Final Exams

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.31.10

Helpy-Chalk writes about final exams, which is a subject that comes up for me, oh, twice a year. Apparently Harvard switched their final exams to be opt-in rather than opt-out, after discovering that only 23% of professors give exams*.

I give weekly small-stakes five minute quizzes, 2-3 tests, and a final exam. One of the biggest challenges I face with our students is how they seem to completely purge all material from their brains at the end of the semester. The following semester they seem completely mystified by material they were quite competent with a few months earlier**. So my belief is that the point of the final exam is to make them review the entirety of the material one extra time, and get a little more of it to stick.

Following links from Helpy-Chalk gets you to this list of tips for writing exams, of which I vehemently disagree with:

Make the final harder (and probably longer) than other exams.

Heck, no! Longer, sure. Harder? No. 1) My students almost always under-perform on the final. 2) They've already learned whatever they're going to learn by the time they see the final. Most importantly, 3) grading a test full of mistakes takes five times longer than grading a pretty good test. Save yourself grief in grading; make the final easy.

*(Heebie U has an idiotic policy of mandatory final exams, by which they mean that all classes must meet during their scheduled exam period. Even if final papers were submitted online, or whatever. Some teachers meet, say hi, pass out candy and dismiss their class. Apparently the origins of this rule were that teachers who do give finals felt pressure from students who would say "None of my other teachers are holding final exams. Can I take yours early?" Being a teacher who has occasionally met this pressure, I can say that, wow, what a stupid argument in favor of mandatory finals. When a student has come to me with this question, here's my thought process: Does it require absolutely no work from me to give the student the final at an alternate time? Ie, will the test already be written and am I proctoring a convenient exam for another class? If so, sure. Otherwise, no. No student has ever given me grief for an honest answer like "Oh, I won't have gotten the exam written early. Sorry.")

**This semester I have an unusually competent group of Cal II students, I am delighted to say.


 

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