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So awesome.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.01.12

Enjoy.

Pink
what is pink and hangs up your pijamas
your mother

Via Sifu


 

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The garden of forking paths

Posted by Ben
on 11.30.12

Last night clew asked whether, in addition to the novels in the form of letters—of emails—of twitter exchanges—of no doubt as well blog posts (really, diaristic novels have existed for ages) and who knows what other media—there has also been a novel in the form of commit messages.

Of course if we ask this question we must ask: is the vehicle of the action the commit messages? The committed matter? Or the commits as a whole, comprising that which is committed as well as the messages describing same? Clearly (I say that it is clear) the last option is best. But now a new question arises: have we a vehicle of pairs, or—a pair of vehicles? If again we take the last option, we can imagine a novel scheme wherein a group of collaborators is working on a jointly authored work of fiction (so that it will plausibly consist of several files, perhaps a collection of linked short stories?), the story at this level being advanced, retarded, and permuted by the series of diffs to the document as the collaborators collaborate, the branches and merges (one can imagine sneaking important changes into merge conflict resolutions), etc., the relations between the collaborators themselves, and their assessments of each others' work, being advanced by their commit messages.

Such a work, while no doubt very difficult to make even remotely successful, would surely be a big hit among the not insubstantial group of people who are fans of all of Hopscotch, The Quincunx, and Pale Fire.

If I remember the one talk I heard by him at all correctly, Gary Saul Morson would delight in such a work.


 

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Fix the schools.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.30.12

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it's bullshit and meaningless to pretend to have a conversation about why schools are good or bad or failing our children or whatever. There's just regions of poverty, and if you want to fix the school, you need to lift the region out of poverty, and the school will more or less fix itself.

Obviously there are counter-examples. I just don't think they generalize.


 

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Architecture

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.30.12

The house I grew up in (and that my parents still live in) was a big two-story house built in the 1940s. The architects definitely ascribed to the maze of rooms philosophy of living: the downstairs forms a figure 8, with 7 small-to-medium rooms which can all be closed off individually (or passed through consecutively), and two bathrooms and a kitchen which are not really part of the figure eight. The upstairs is an S shaped corridor, with bedrooms (five, except two are combined in a weird way) and two bathrooms. The stairs were at one end of the S and my bedroom was at the other end.

I sometimes wonder to what degree that kind of house contributed to a sense of isolation and disconnectedness in my family of origin, which was happy-ish but each player encouraged to be very independent. Most likely a super intimate family wouldn't have been disrupted by a maze-like house, and most likely we wouldn't have been a super intimate family in any house. Nevertheless, I take comfort in how my current house is the exact opposite - while there are nooks and crannies for a teenager to squirrel themselves away, you would have to actively squirrel yourself away. The default is to be in an open space, whereas in the maze-house the default is squirreled away and it takes effort to find someone else, and to occupy yourself near them.


 

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High impact hypocrisy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.29.12

"High-impact practices" basically means not a traditional lecture format. Anything that means the students are being active instead of passive. Faculty members love to complain about how resistant young students are to active learning. "They've been indoctrinated by K-12! They just want to sit there and be told the answer!"

But you know what? When I was at my administrative conference in Boston a little bit ago, I highly resented those speakers who implemented high-impact practices into their talks. Just leave me alone. I'm either trying to figure out how best to apply this stuff to Heebie U, or I'm bored and mentally elsewhere, and either way I don't really feel like hauling my ass out of my seat and making nice in a small group with strangers.

(I do actually shake things up in the classroom despite my resentment when it happens to me.)


 

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What math grad school is like.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.29.12

This is about right.


 

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East Bay Meet-up Thread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.28.12

To welcome Jackmormon the week after Thanksgiving - later in that week is preferred. Says Minivet.

Bump, bump, bump bump it up: "We seem to have settled on the Trappist on Thursday the 29th, but no time yet." Says Minivet.

I don't see why the east-coast meetup post should be so dominant while this one languishes.


 

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ATM: Can a woman and a woman ever really be friends? edition

Posted by Tia
on 11.28.12

I thought the blog could use a nice, juicy, Ask the Mineshaft. I once was PITH, but I made the move, and now I'm PINY. I don't regret my decision; in fact, I think it was the only one I could have made, but it's been a pretty difficult transition logistically and emotionally. Right now I have a dilemma:

You know how I was all, my highest quality relationships are in NY? As my third year of graduate school passed, I realized that was changing, and by the time I left the heartland I had come to understand that I wasn't sure that was true, but I was still pretty sure that staying in the heartland was going to be very injurious to my search for a romantic partner, and that became my primary reason for leaving. Now back in New York, I still have friends, but some have moved away, some have had babies, and my ex-boyfriend has a girlfriend who doesn't feel comfortable meeting me so we've been seeing each other pretty infrequently. I've been looking around for new sources of friendship and support. Actually, I've done a pretty amazing job making new friends in five months, much better than I've done finding better romantic relationships (although the painful one I had was at least with someone who seemed like the *kind* of person I imagine myself with -- he wasn't obviously grossly inappropriate the way some of my gestures toward romantic connection in the heartland were). In fact, I've made one friend with whom I have an almost magical instantaneous rapport -- I don't think I've ever experienced this outside of a school setting. I'll call her Holly. We met on a bus trip to do GOTV for Obama -- on the bus, seeing each other for the first time, we actually locked eyes, the way people describe first meeting a romantic partner. As soon as she offered food to someone else on the bus, I said something about my lunch, we got into a several-seats-away conversation about our feelings about food, until she invited me to come sit nearer to her, until we chatted all the way down on the bus, did all our canvassing together, and chatted on the way back, too. We saw each other twice more within ten days. Holly is understanding, accepting, and caring. The second time we hung out two guys at the bar expressed a lot of surprise that we'd only just met four days ago -- we seemed, they said, like we'd known each other forever. "It feels that way," Holly said. As time goes on, we only have stronger rapport.

I called myself straight for most of my twenties and then came to conclude that this was probably repression to defend against the fact that I had at one point or another lusted terribly after most of my female friends, knew I'd never be reciprocated, and was afraid that admitting I was attracted to women would interfere with the intimacy I had with them. But despite some make out sessions and one six-week relationship with a woman back in the heartland, I've still never had what I would call sex with a woman (for these purposes, oral sex is my definition of sex). The woman in the six-week relationship was withholding sex; she was depressed. Holly is very attractive and just my type. She's also charismatic, animated, and warm. When I met I definitely wondered if she might be interested in women, but I found her OkCupid profile and it said, "straight." So I put that away.

Well. First clue was on a date with this guy who'd written both of us on OkCupid and it turns out had pursued both of us years before and we'd both rejected him (I didn't even remember the date we'd had back then). He said that Holly claimed to be more interested in women at the time, but for all I knew that was just a line she fed him. Holly has several times remarked that she thinks I am very attractive, but, meh, telling each other they're hot is just something women do. Then a few days ago we went to a play together (she clutched my arm during all the scary parts) and had drinks after. While we had drinks, she started asking me all about my sexual experiences with women, which I hadn't brought up, but she inferred existed from my OkCupid profile, which invites contact from women. She'd slept with women, she told me, although she never found it entirely satisfying. She always had an impulse to say, "When does the sex happen?" and the other woman would say, Tthat was it," and she concluded that she needed a penis to feel that she'd had sex. But she was curious whether I felt differently. I told her I didn't know, because I'd never gotten far enough. (I will say that when I was dating the depressed woman who withheld sex from me I did feel like my romantic fantasies got attached to her the way they would with a man, that I imagined myself staying with her somehow.) She also may have said she wondered if she should reconsider. I don't remember.

Then, when we were together on the subway platform waiting for the train, she suddenly said, "I want to suggest that we make out right now." But then immediately she followed on, "I'm so ashamed that I just said that" and went to hide her head between the metal flanks that stick out of the columns in the subway. "I should stand right here and you should circle around me with a rape whistle. That would be fitting punishment."

"Holly," I told her, "I'm not thinking anything whatsoever bad about you because you said that."

"I'll just stand right here and look very ashamed. Of course we should just be friends."

We went on to joke about how I couldn't fulfill her shame fantasies because I didn't have a whistle, nor could I whistle, and I tried to whistle to demonstrate how inadequate a shamer I was, and discuss all the different ways she could possibly be shamed simultaneously by a better shamer than I. The train came and we rode home, arms touching, making whispery conspiratorial jokes about all the people on the train, and at one point I made her laugh uncontrollably for about three minutes (I didn't even think I was that funny), and in addition to feeling communion in a silly giggle fit I felt some erotic power at being able to make a woman laugh that hard. I think we may see each other this Saturday if she comes to my cooking club.

So the dilemma is this: obviously I have a sexual opportunity here -- even I can't miss that -- if I'm willing to be the least bit assertive. But I don't have a sexual opportunity with someone who's expressing unambivalent interest in my gender. If I had this kind of connection with someone this attractive, and that person was a straight man, we'd both be fantasizing about the wedding right now, but she told me she doesn't feel fulfilled by sex with women and I don't know the answer to whether I would. I'm also ambivalent about the feeling of likeness I have with some of the women I really get along with, the way I can so easily envision all their thought processes going on in my head. I guess part of me wants difference and complementary strengths. Holly and I have a very similar set of strengths and weaknesses -- for instance, in a fantasy world where we formed a household, one of us would have to learn to be more financially responsible. But any ambivalence I feel about women is not sufficient to stop me from being open enough that I would try *if* I thought I was dealing with someone else who really wanted to try, but she is closed off enough to relationships with women that she's calling herself straight on her OkCupid profile and she told me she didn't think she was deeply enthused about sex with women.

Having a female friendship this immediate, warm, and intimate just drop into my life has felt -- I used this word before -- nearly magical; it will deeply enrich my quality of life here and I certainly can't count on lightning striking again if I fuck up this one. It would be worth risking a friendship for the possibility of a real relationship, but I don't want to risk it just so I can say that once in my life I ate pussy. I used to think of myself as someone who was good at maintaining friendships after a relationship ended, but that has changed in the past few years (my success is closely covarying with relationship length, so that relationships with people I formed a strong connection and sense of coupleness can resist the conflict and trauma of a break up, but lately I haven't formed relationships that strong). I'm also still painfully enough in love with the guy I stopped seeing in October that I have distressing, intrusive flashbacks about him when I try to get it on with other people. The gentleman last night was pretty understanding about this. In fact, I'm thinking of trying to spend some time cultivating relationships with men that have all the traits of the one I'm trying to form with the guy last night: designated casual, we have a rule (imposed by me) that we can only see each other intermittently to control my emotional investment, and I get to approach sex with whatever fits and starts I need to. Maybe in this manner I will slowly manage to emerge from this hole where I associate any sexual feelings so strongly with this one person. So I also don't want to subject Holly to a version of me who is still in love with another person.

I was pretty strongly leaning "no sex," but the guy last night thought that was crazy, and I should pursue it. So what do you think?

Perplexed in New York

Man, I don't know, PINY. That's a tough one. I think I'm going to punt and let the Mineshaft say what they have to say.


 

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Look, Text?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.28.12

Ordinary asshole behavior can be amusing, and is in any case not something I'm going to worry about, Calling one commenter a drunk and another a wife-beater, not amusing. If you want to play here, show some judgment about how to behave. I'm not writing rules for you; if you keep behaving unacceptably, eventually I will overcome my normal level of torpor, and get around to deleting your comments. If you're unable to figure out what 'unacceptable' means, that's your problem. This does not state any general rule of how people are allowed to behave, or purport to be fair, just that you personally have finally created enough trouble that I'm bored.*

To the rest of you fuckers: comments posted here are not endorsed by the management. Comments posted here and not immediately condemned in the manner you would like them to be? Still not endorsed by the management. You know what's endorsed by the management? Nothing. There is no unified management. Anything endorsed by a front-page poster is endorsed by that front-page poster, and that's it.

I'm not speaking for any other front-page poster here, but I don't believe we have the option of tightly enforcing decent behavior in the comments -- it's a prohibitive amount of work, and edge cases end up making more bad feeling than the lack of enforcement does. People acting like assholes are going to act like assholes, and we are not always, or even often, going to stop them. If it makes you unhappy, chew the offender out yourself, but complaining about how someone else should be investing a shitload of unpaid labor fixing the problem is often going to make me think less of you.
_________________________

*To be clear, continue saying what you like about me personally. Maybe I don't give a fuck, maybe I do but I'm committed to free speech, who knows.


 

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Shall We Summon Another Hurricane?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.28.12

By attempting to have a meetup? Ajay's in NYC 11/26-30. Of those dates, the 28th is best for me, followed by the 26th and 30th, but anyone else likely to show up should weigh in with availability in comments.

I'm sure Fresh Salt will be open by then -- if not, we can huddle sadly in the gutter outside it, drinking out of brown paper bags. Or pick another bar. One or the other.

Update: So it's the 28th, and I'll try and get there at 6. Venue for now is the Campbell Apartment, in the southwest corner of Grand Central, although if anyone else has a quieter suggestion, I'm all for it Dive Bar.

Also, the London contingent are drinking the same night in London someplace -- they'll explain where in the comments.


 

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Only kind of exclusive.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.27.12

Gated communities in New York wouldn't mind a little federal dollars help cleaning up their private roads and beaches, kthnx.

As AWB points out, elsewhere, the comments are an interesting discussion.


 

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Guest Post - Let's Get Critical

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.27.12

Witt writes: Idle thought: Does having experience of a process make you more comfortable criticizing it? That is, if you have been behind the scenes during the making of a movie or a piece of major legislation, and privy to all of the squabbles and quirks and negotiations and changes in plan, are you then more confident in holding others in similar situations to account in the future?

My instinct is to say yes -- even though you could also make the exact opposite argument, that having been in their shoes makes you more *hesitant* to criticize.

Heebie's take: I think neither? Judgmental people gotta judge. (I should know.) Having inside knowledge just makes your criticisms more well-grounded and informed.

Also, sometimes the process looks better from the inside, sometimes worse.


 

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Beans

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.26.12

1. Putting dry beans in a crockpot is exactly the same amount of work (ie negligible) as putting canned beans in a crockpot.

2. Somewhat to my surprise, the dry beans definitely taste much better and I am sorry if I ever thought anyone was being hyper-foodist about soaking dry beans instead of opening a can, although I still use canned beans in other non-crockpot recipes when soaking means an extra step.

In conclusion, I don't know why any crockpot recipe would ever call for canned beans. Fools.


 

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Adventures in grading.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.26.12

A colleague told me that a student turned in a paper where they used "are" every time they meant "or". Or possibly the reverse, but that just seems too much. Anyway WOW.

(All I can think is "Learning disorder?" so I feel kind of bad marveling at the error.)


 

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