Halford writes: I've gotten myself into a position where I have to make up a story for my five year old daughter right before bedtime, every single night. She has imposed strict rules governing the content of the story. The story must comply with each and every one of the rules - failure to comply strictly with the below means that no one is going to sleep. This has been going on for about a month. I'm running out of ideas and was hoping that the Mineshaft could help me draft a few winners.
Here are the rules:
1) The story must be about me, and I must state my age (which can vary from kid to adult) and location.
2) The story must involve me either being (a) killed or (b) permanently captured by monsters. The story must end with death or capture. There absolutely cannot be a happy ending.
3) The story must include ALL of the monsters. Here are the monsters whom one must include in every story: zombie, ghost, witch, Frankenstein, skeleton, medusa, vampire, mummy. No skimping.
4) The story must include a description of how sorry and angry my parents were about what happened with the monsters.
5) The story must be a good story.
Basically, all of my stories are variants the following: I was a kid, I fell into a pit, monsters were in the pit having a party and doing the Monster Mash, the monsters locked me up and kept me in the pit forever, and my parents felt bad. Can you all come up with something better?
Heebie's take: What fun! Off the top of my head: you could go to the jungle, and be hunted by monsters and your head put on a spike. Or to the elementary school and get run over by a school bus of monsters.
You go to the mall, and you start to notice that all the store-owners look a bit strange. But you need to get your grocery shopping done. Then they close in on you. You clutch your bag of shoeboxes as you go down, and it was containing a new pair of awesome sparkly shoes for your 5 year old.
The monsters tie you to the railroad track, and you got creamed by a train.
I feel like you need a copy of the Gashleycrumb Tinies. Do the monsters need to have individualized roles?
Have some mildly unsettling beefcake.
Australian students learning anatomy by body-painting a surprisingly hairless football player. Via Buzzfeed.
There's always this guy, who gives alternative answers to questions he finds in advice columns. A sample:
Captain Awkward, 20 August 2013:
Dear Captain Awkard: So I've been dating this Sagittarian for 8 months. It was going swimmingly and due to his couple of months free waiting to get exam results and find a new job, along with me working for myself and being able to take loads of time off, we were intenso - inseparable for 3 months. Mix up his exotic hotness, ambition, brains, resounding (seeming) lack of baggage, patience, easygoing nature and ability to deal with me. Slather on some pretty great sex, a holiday in Rome, my friends loving him, lots of late night spiritual and philosophical convos and I was fully baked. He's only 26 and I'm 28 but sure cool. Then he gets the job he wanted. Head and neck surgeon and pretty full on, but only 8-5 and no weekends. I would have been fine only for 2 things: sex took a massive nose dive and he's absolutely exhausted all the time. I'm a Gemini. Fairly well-adjusted but I get bored of the trivialities of 9-5 life, that's why I'm an entrepreneur. I also adore traveling and love my work, I see life as being about relationships and experiences. I feel as though he's choosing his career over the rest of his life, including ME. Now I'm a bitter hag about the sex, having asked if it's because he's gay (both honestly and nastily), or just doesn't fancy me (ditto) or if he has issues about sex (not much experience/possible mother issues or whatever) and he swears it's none of these things, he's just tired. He also now thinks I'm a nympho, which is ridiculous. He can't seem to sleep earlier than 12 and gets up at 6 so I KNOW he's tired but he has to take responsibility for that himself, I don't force him to stay up or eat late! He's trying different diets, gave up smoking 2 months ago for the first time in 14 years, getting exercise, is going to try yoga, but it's not working so far. I feel neglected, betrayed, disappointed. On top of that he's not very romantic or good at expressing his feelings verbally. Not terrible but not great. We've entered a massive power struggle and are constantly bickering, mostly started by me. Throw in the fact that his 6 month contract ends soon and he may have to spend much of his career moving around the country. I am fairly free to go with him but my LIFE is here in London and I'm not the type of person who wants to be traipsing around after a man. I feel really badly towards him and I know that I'm pulling away because I don't want to compromise myself and/or get hurt. Oh and I don't like his mother. Dealbreaker?
One sure way to know that a nine-month-old relationship is meant to last is if you're berating your partner for possibly being gay because he spends too much time being a surgeon and not bowing to your every sexual whim like that one time you went to Rome in your own personal Wes Anderson movie. You kids are so lucky.
But no one, least of all an exotic intenso hot guy whom you have singled out as a mate at all costs, has a right to focus on his career when he should be banging his girlfriend. Have you had any convos about how totes ridonk his desire to practice medicine is, in light of the fact of your vagina?
As you've correctly ascertained, your (awesome, free-wheeling) personality was set in (really gorgeous) stone by the stars before the sands of time began to fill the hourglass, and it is up to this Saggi dude to accommodate how incredibly chill you are by not working too much, going to sleep when you tell him to and proving to you repeatedly with his boner that he is not gay, which he would have to be if he doesn't want to have sex with someone who keeps track of his dietary habits and whether he's had enough yoga this week in your opinion.
If only he could see how unconcerned you are with the trivialities of life!
I particularly like 'totes ridonk'.
(Link from Lord Castock)
Ydnew writes: I thought the numbers might be interesting - this article seems to nicely quantify how screwed the grad students and postdocs in high energy physics are. I'm restraining myself from saying it's a shame there aren't enough guinea pigs and puppies at the pet emporia to meet demand.
After the LHC, the Deluge. One professorship in particle physics at UT-Austin drew 85 applications last year, but that's just the beginning.
The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master's and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab's document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) The two largest particle detectors fed by the LHC, the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)--which both independently spotted the Higgs--boast teams of 3000 and 2700 physicists. By themselves, the CMS and ATLAS teams minted at least 174 Ph.D.s last year. That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900.
In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for. INSPIRE currently lists just 152 "junior" positions, including 61 in North America. And the supply of jobs isn't likely to increase, says John Finley, an astrophysicist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is leading a search to replace two senior particle physicists. "For the most part, I don't think departments are looking to grow their particle physics programs," he says.
Young particle physicists say their older colleagues are generally supportive, but don't always fully appreciate their predicament. "I think the senior people, they actually think that if you work very hard, you'll make it, because they made it," says Marcelle Soares-Santos, 31, a postdoc at Fermilab who works on a cosmology project known as the Dark Energy Survey.
There's more in the article about how young students are delusional about their chances for success (ie becoming tenured faculty) and gaining transferrable skills (hahaha), but it doesn't begin to address the real consequences of having 1/3 of the workers at the two detectors be grad students. Sometimes I think it would be smart for professional organizations to limit graduate admissions in a way similar to how the American Medical Association limits med school admissions, although I have no idea how that would work in practice since there's not really an accrediting body in most STEM fields like there is for medical doctors.
The New York Times's wedding section is a perfect natural experiment designed to answer the question: What do the world's most self-important people think is important?
Introducing WeddingCrunchers.com, a searchable database of nearly 60,000 NYT wedding announcements from 1981 through 2013. Plot n-gram frequency and visualize trends across 30+ years of yuppie nuptials
is chock-full of lots of enjoyable graphs about trends in the NYT Wedding Announcements. All those who used to show up in that awfully-missed blog, Veiled Conceits.
There exists a publication for universities called the Stall Street Journal, archives here, frex, and it appears in the bathroom stalls near me. I am just going to transcribe this entire issue - which I see several times a day, and will see for the entire month of September - which is called Backpack Tips.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, more than 79 million students in the US carry backpacks, and in 2007, more than 2000 backpack-related injuries were treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctor's offices, and clinics!
To avoid pain or injury, follow these tips:
1. Your backpack shouldn't weigh more than 10 percent of your body weight.
2. Distribute weight evenly on both shoulders.
3. Choose a pack with well-padded straps and tighten them when wearing.
4. Carry only what you absolutely need.
5. Try to build muscle strength so you can carry the pack easily.
There is a photo of a resilient college student carrying a well-padded, tightened, not overpacked backpack, and coping. The poor dears.
Rob Helpy-Chalk writes: I just came from a long workshop on teaching students from a background generational poverty. The speaker was mostly drawing on the work of this Ruby Payne, whom we have discussed before. The talk featured lots of little three line comparisons that are meant to illustrate the differences in the "hidden rules" that govern life for people from generational poverty, the middle class, and inherited wealth. For instance, people from generational poverty plan within 24 hour window, middle class people plan for two to four years, wealthy people think 20 years into the future. Some of these, like the shortened time horizon that comes with an unstable environment, made perfect sense to me. Others seemed weird. We were told that middle class people are used to working for people they don't like and don't respect, but our poor students will only do the work we assign if they personally like us.
The speaker for this particular event is one of the authors of this book which she uses to teach a course in basic college skills to first generation college students to students at another rust belt school. A lot of the pedagogy advice that I got coming out of it seems sound no matter what the underlying theory. I know my students have time management problems, whether that comes from "attitudes of poverty," or simply trying to work, go to school and raise a family all at the same time. And a lot of my students are 18 to 24 year olds, who are not known for long term thinking, regardless of economic class.
In any case, I'd be curious to hear if any of the unfoggetariat who have experience in this area, like Witt, think about the work that is being done by Payne and her followers. Some of the notions of class here are specific to America. The poor here are explicitly defined by economic instability, for instance. People from knifecrime island might be more inclined to talk about "working class," as ttaM was in the previous thread. But for the purposes of this analysis, the working class can be split into those actually working, who count as middle class, and those who don't work, who count as poor.
Heebie: My take on the last Ruby Payne discussion was feeling battered and foolish for even bringing it up. But I secretly still enjoy the topic.
I know this is showing up all over the place, but it is a really excellent piece. And sad. And inconclusive.
Witt writes: Federal task force makes recommendations for how to avoid the next Hurricane Sandy. This article is badly written but the general idea seems important. We're likely going to have more major natural disasters.
Heebie's take: I think it's Ttam who often laments that crisis-avoidance is the most under-appreciated job possible. That everyone thinks you're crying wolf, and then gets mad at you when something bad happens. That said, the suggestions in the article seem like no-brainers.
File under "overgeneralizations that I choose to believe because they confirm my preconceived notion". Specifically, there's a profile in academics of the very charismatic senior professor who had a really neat idea thirty years ago and has been coasting on it ever since, and believes himself to be more talented and insightful than anyone else. Also he assumes everyone else has plenty of time on their hands. Fuck that guy. (To be honest, I'm only thinking of about two people. But they left an impression.)
Do the kids still have epically long phone calls, the way they used to? Is that still a thing? Obviously they camp out online like we do, but I'm wondering if the extended phone calls, where you're essentially just hanging out in real time, is a thing of the past. I remember occasionally just watching TV with a friend on the other end of the line. Like, sitting down to watch a show together, and mostly not talking.
I saw a preview for The Smurfs 2 yesterday, and observed that the terribly problematic Vanity Smurf of old now has acquired a British accent. I see what you did there, Smurf writers, and I can't fault you for it. (I assume this was the resolution created for Smurfs 1 a few years ago, but that movie did not enter my consciousness.)