brdgt: (Where Cheddar Is Beddar by iconomicon)
One of UW's school papers two days ago...

brdgt: (Back and Forth Forever by iconomicon)
I've been remiss in reposting articles here ever since I started using Facebook, so here's some things I've been reading lately:

First of all, I'm not a big fan of Tumblr - it often seems to be the worst kind of social media: no original content or even your own thoughts, just reposting, BUT, these, these I approve of:

Dads are the Original Hipster



And Hipster Animals:





Then, some feminism related links:

Poor Jane’s Almanac
By JILL LEPORE
The New York Times

Cambridge, Mass.

THE House Budget Committee chairman, Paul D. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, announced his party’s new economic plan this month. It’s called “The Path to Prosperity,” a nod to an essay Benjamin Franklin once wrote, called “The Way to Wealth.”

Franklin, who’s on the $100 bill, was the youngest of 10 sons. Nowhere on any legal tender is his sister Jane, the youngest of seven daughters; she never traveled the way to wealth. He was born in 1706, she in 1712. Their father was a Boston candle-maker, scraping by. Massachusetts’ Poor Law required teaching boys to write; the mandate for girls ended at reading. Benny went to school for just two years; Jenny never went at all.

Their lives tell an 18th-century tale of two Americas. Against poverty and ignorance, Franklin prevailed; his sister did not.

Read more... )

Dallas Sports Columnist Displeased With Pitcher’s Decision To Do A Totally Normal Thing

It can be hard to tell that Dallas Observer sports blogger Richie Whitt is a sports blogger, since his professional blog, the one that is actually hosted on Village Voice servers, largely consists of pictures of women in various states of undress and reflections on recent Korn performances, so you could be forgiven for wondering where the hell he thinks he gets off shitting on Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis for having the gall to miss a start in favor of attending the birth of his second child.

I mean, my first question was, what is Richie Whitt doing writing about sports, anyway? Is there not a wet t-shirt somewhere in the whole of suburban North Texas that needs his undivided attention?

Apparently not. No, when Whitt heard that Colby Lewis skipped a game, well, this:

In Game 2, Colby Lewis is scheduled to start after missing his last regular turn in the rotation because — I’m not making this up — his wife, Jenny, was giving birth in California. To the couple’s second child.

That’s right, folks. If you can believe it, this guy attended the birth of his child. Take a moment to collect yourselves if you must. I know news like this can be hard to process. Ok? Ok.

And lest you think that Whitt was just joking, I invite you to read further, wherein Whitt doesn’t really joke at all but just talks about how hard it is for him to wrap his mind around the idea of taking a day off to see your kid born.

Read more... )



Academia related links:

April 24, 2011
Paranoid? You Must Be a Grad Student

By Don Troop

Memo to grad students: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not about to give you a Ph.D.

A mild case of paranoia might even help you navigate the tricky path to that terminal degree, says Roderick M. Kramer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

It's an academic cliché that graduate students are paranoid, but Mr. Kramer has actually crafted a linear model to explain it. The model depicts how factors common to the graduate-school experience—like being a newcomer unsure of your standing, and knowing that you're being sized up constantly—can ultimately induce social paranoia, a heightened sensitivity to what you imagine others might be thinking about you.

"That self-consciousness translates into a tendency to be extra vigilant and maybe overprocess information on how you're treated," Mr. Kramer says. (He published his model in a 1998 paper, "Paranoid Cognition in Social Systems.")

To be clear, he is not talking about clinical paranoia, an illness he studied at the University of California at Los Angeles under the psychiatrist Kenneth Colby, who had developed a computerized paranoid schizophrenic called PARRY. And Mr. Kramer, who has written extensively on the social psychology of trust and distrust, doesn't regard social paranoia as a pejorative term, either.

"It's meant to be almost a playful label to help people remember the consequences of being in these situations," he says.

Not only does he know what you're thinking, but he also knows why. Roderick M. Kramer has developed a linear model to explain the type of social paranoia common to graduate students.

Read more... )

Professor Deeply Hurt by Student's Evaluation
The Onion, APRIL 2, 1996

Leon Rothberg, Ph.D., a 58-year-old professor of English Literature at Ohio State University, was shocked and saddened Monday after receiving a sub-par mid-semester evaluation from freshman student Chad Berner. The circles labeled 4 and 5 on the Scan-Tron form were predominantly filled in, placing Rothberg’s teaching skill in the “below average” to “poor” range.

English professor Dr. Leon Rothberg, though hurt by evaluations that pointed out the little globule of spit that sometimes forms between his lips, was most upset at being called "totally lame" in one freshman's write-in comments.

Although the evaluation has deeply hurt Rothberg’s feelings, Berner defended his judgment at a press conference yesterday.

“That class is totally boring,” said Berner, one of 342 students in Rothberg’s introductory English 161 class. “When I go, I have to read the school paper to keep from falling asleep. One of my brothers does a comic strip called ‘The Booze Brothers.’ It’s awesome.”

Read more... )



A really great article on politics, science, and psychology: The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science
How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link.
By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones

"A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger [2] (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study [3] in psychology.

Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!

From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. "Their sense of urgency was enormous," wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs.

In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning [5]" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president [6] (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.

Read more... )



And some funnies:

XKCD + Star Wars:



Probably the best Dinosaur comic ever:

brdgt: (Grad Student by iconomicon)
Me, trying to explain my work in Medical History in a History of Science Department. At least the Department finally decided to call it the "Program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in the History of Science Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison." Say that four times fast...

brdgt: (All your rebel base by ainabarad_icons)
EPA Didn't Know Anybody was Still Drinking Water
April 26, 2006 | Issue 42•17

WASHINGTON, DC—Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson apologized during a press conference Tuesday for what critics called "flagrant oversight and neglect" in monitoring ground- and tap-water quality across the United States, claiming that his department was unaware that citizens were still consuming it. "I can honestly say we had no idea that anyone used faucet water anymore," Johnson said. "Bottled water, sure—I have some here on the lectern. But if there really are people out there still drinking tap water, all I can say is you're better off not knowing what's in there." Johnson added that official EPA policy is that Americans should stick to sports drinks.

Biofuels Worse For The Environment

According to the journal Science, the use of biofuels does not offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced in their manufacture. What do you think?

Old Man

Bruce Jones,
Systems Analyst
"Would it at least offset the amount of time I have to pretend to care about the environment?"

Young Woman

Kirsten Simonon,
Tattoo Artist
"Just once, why can't one of our poorly considered quick fixes work?"

Asian Man

Will Trembeau,
Truck Dispatcher
"Then where do they suppose we should get this green power? From magic? From the very Sun?"

brdgt: (Deadites)
"Through Your Inadequacy To Fulfill Me, I Have Realized My Own Egotism"

Well HERE is an interesting twist on a common narrative courtesy reader "Mandy"! Usually when you date a writer and he is a selfish asshole who forces you to break up with him because breaking up with you would require him to verbalize the full extent of his idiotic assness, the silver lining is that you can get a bunch of writerly man-hours out of him because he feels guilty. My ex-boyfriend edited all my stuff for years after we broke up, to the point that I realized he was actually a decent person. This is in stark contrast to "Josh," who dated Mandy for nine months while they were editors on the college paper. He cheated on her the whole time with a reporter at the paper — ever worked on a college paper? this = not easy — then broke up with her, only to commence nagging her via all the various modes of correspondence with little editing chores and proofreading requests. This particular email came with a ten-attachment cargo of stories to read. (Hey Josh, I know some guys who are really good at this sort of thing!) But it was not without a fairly thorough self-criticism! Try not to get an ulcer…

Mandy,

I know you don't want to speak with me, but I just wanted to thank you for forcing me to realize my own repugnance, the blackness of heart and vanity of spirit I've ignored. So thank you, and I wanted to say that you will love again, sooner than you think. With your tenacity and strength of character, you deserve someone who loves you and who is actually happy to see you every day. Through your inadequacy to fulfill me, I have realized my own egotism. I can't thank you enough.

I know I'm in no position to ask you for a favor, but I am currently vacationing in New York City, making it damn hard to edit news stories. I know you are interning all day, but if you could edit the stories I've attached I would deeply appreciate it. I believe that you editing my stories would make things less weird between us and would help forge the road to friendship. You have no reason to like me, but I would like to be your friend. I miss you.

You may be wondering why I did not email someone else and ask them to fill in for me, but I chose not to because of their intense hatred toward me. Since we broke up, I have started to realize that the reason people put up with me was because I was dating you. None of those people will ever be my friend, and The Post is just a job for me.

Again, I am sorry that because of me, you are broken. I am a terrible person because your love couldn't sustain me, and what I did to you is the most terrible thing I've ever done. Everything you ever said to me was completely true, and I feel awful.

Please let me know if you can edit those stories. Thanks

Josh.
brdgt: (Default)
Stuff White People Like #100 - Bumper Stickers

It is a fact that white people will never turn down an opportunity to enlighten other people on the correct way to think. While this is very easy to do through email or face to face conversation, it is exceptionally difficult to do while driving a car. Fortunately for white people there is a solution that is both popular and ineffective: bumper stickers.

Before talking about the types of bumper stickers that white people like, it’s very important to get an understanding about layout and placement. When a white person drives an older car (6+ years old) that has a resale value under $2000, they will coat the entire backside of the car in bumper stickers. Because of the abundance of space they are free to include stickers from all areas of white support: music, politics, the environment, insults to right wing politicians, and various movements that tell people to keep a city “weird.”

But when white people have a nice new car such as a Prius or an Audi station wagon, the fear of losing resale value prevents them from applying more than one sticker. Therefore that one sticker must properly capture the essence of the car and the political views of the driver.

The safest and most accepted choice for a sticker is always one that supports a Democratic Presidential candidate (Ralph Nader is an acceptable substitute). As of February 2008, white law requires an Obama 08 bumper sticker to be placed on the back of every Prius. Though these stickers reach peak effectiveness during an election year, it is acceptable to leave this sticker on the car until the next election regardless of whether or not the candidate actually won. If it’s a disputed election like in 2000, the sticker can be left on for the life of the car.

If a white person does not feel like supporting a candidate, they will likely select a bumper sticker that tells other people what to do. Some popular ones include telling people to Coexist and to stop eating meat.

Though there is no conclusive evidence about the effectiveness of these stickers, white people show no signs of abandoning the campaign. In fact, there is a popular tale in white mythology that tells of an unenlightened man driving on the freeway who saw a bumper sticker on the back of a Subaru station wagon that said “Go Veg.” The sticker was so moving that he threw the hamburger he was eating right out the window and became a vegetarian on the spot. Two days later, he affixed the same bumper sticker to their car and the process began anew until enough people had changed their views to form what we now know as the city of Portland, Oregon.

The only other acceptable sticker option for white people is the white oval country tag sticker used commonly in Europe to help identify cars that cross international borders. Though they actually serve a function in Europe, white people use the stickers to show people where they like to take vacations. If you know a white person with one of these stickers, it’s always a good idea to ask them about where they got the sticker. Your question will justify the presence of the sticker and make the white person feel great.

If you have decided that you want to improve your status with white people by applying a bumper sticker to your car do not make the assumption that you can just use anything! Stickers that support right wing politics, guns, patriotism, war, or hunting are all unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to use a sticker with a clever slogan that does not support a left wing political cause. Any of these stickers will likely end any chance you had of befriending a white person.

Note: attaching a yellow magnetic ribbon to the back of your car will result in being shunt from some of the stricter white communities and should avoided at all costs.
brdgt: (Default)

 

Point

Darling, I Will Give You The Moon And The Stars

By Brandon Hendrickson
English Grad Student

Brandon Hendrickson<BR>English Grad Student
Say only that you will turn your shining smile my way, my love, and I will give you the very moon and stars!
At night, I pore over my assigned reading and try to focus on the immortal words of Byron—but my thoughts drift to you. I love the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you frown over hardbound copies of the Feynman lectures. I adore the way you squint when you are memorizing formulas.
We've been sitting together at the library for six weeks now, but I've never dared to let you know that my feelings go far beyond THOSE OF of a study partner. When I hear you discussing your homework with your classmates with such intelligence and passion, I can't help but wish you were whispering those words in my ear, instead.
Darling, you are my heart's one true desire! Please tell me the words I so long to hear! Say you love me, too!
Do you want the moon? I will reach up and take it in my hands, write your name on it, and give it to you. It will be yours until the end of time.
Do you want the stars? I will roam the universe for all eternity, gathering up the twinkling points of light in the night sky. I will string the glittering stars into a latticework of jewelry to tuck into your hair, to adorn your neck, and to string around your pretty ankles. Say the word and I will do it.
When I see you on the quad, on your way to this symposium or that, I want to shout to the ends of the universe my total devotion to you. When you are sitting next to me at the cafeteria, idly chatting about student loans and work-study positions, I long to take your hands in mine and kiss your beautiful tapered fingers. Darling, you may study the universe, but you are my universe.
Put an end to my torment! Give yourself to me, and I will give you everything in return.


Counterpoint

Giving Me The Moon And Stars Would Have Disastrous Effects On Our Galaxy

By Sally Toeffer
Physics Grad Student

Sally Toeffer<BR>Physics Grad Student
You're sweet, Brandon, and I'm flattered, but what you're proposing would never work out. There are so many holes in your proposal that I only have time to cover the most obvious ones.
First, regardless of whatever emotional motivation you may feel for doing so, you could never follow me to the bottom of the deepest sea. The water pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench exceeds 18,000 psi. A layperson could never be granted access to the type of submarine he would need to go down there. Nor could we go live together at the top of the highest mountain. Even if we could just be dropped off in a helicopter, the ionosphere is so thin that we would both die within a day due to oxygen deprivation and exposure. And Brandon, giving me the moon and stars would have disastrous consequences for our galaxy, and for other galaxies, as well.
Presume, for the sake of argument, that it is within your power to give me the moon. As you know, impact with an extraterrestrial object a fraction of the moon's mass—one the size of Rhode Island, for example—would constitute an extinction-level event for most of the planet. If the moon were to collide with the Earth's surface (where I would be standing when you gave it to me), it is unlikely that even bacteria would survive. The long-term effects of such a devastating alteration in the gravitational field of our solar system could even extend to objects well outside of the Oort Cloud.
Next, let's consider what would happen if you gave me the stars in the night sky. There are 8,479 objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky under ideal viewing conditions. (Of course, many of these objects are not stars at all, but galaxies so distant that we perceive their billions of separate stars as single points of light. But I won't quibble.) Were you to gather, in one place at one time, just the stars that are visible to us, the result would be an implosion that would rend the very fabric of space-time. Regardless of where I tucked them, the massive implosion caused by the ultra-high-density matter collapsing under its own weight would form a black hole larger even than the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galactic spiral.
As much as I hate to say it, the only part of your proposition that was even remotely accurate was your description of yourself: "an insignificant speck in an uncaring universe." Please don't take it too hard, Brandon. It's not you, it's just scientific fact.
brdgt: (Brainriver by wednesday_icons)
Stuff White People Like #81: Graduate School

Being white means to engage in a day in, day out struggle to prove that you are smarter than other white people. By the time they reach college, most white people are confronted with the fact that they may not be as smart as they imagined.

In coffee shops, bars, and classes white people will engage in conversations about authors and theorists that go nowhere as both parties start rattling off progressively more obscure people until eventually one side recognizes one and claims a victory. By the time they graduate (or a year or two afterwards), white people realize that they will need an edge to succeed in the cut-throat world of modern white society.

That edge is graduate school.

Though professional graduate schools like law and medicine are desirable, the true ivory tower of academia is most coveted as it imparts true, useless knowledge. The best subjects are English, History, Art History, Film, Gender Studies, Studies, Classics, Philosophy, Political Science, Literature, and the ultimate: Comp Lit. MFA’s are also acceptable.

Returning to school is an opportunity to join an elite group of people who have a passion for learning that is so great they are willing to forgo low five-figure publishing and media jobs to follow their dreams of academic glory.

Being in graduate school satisfies many white requirements for happiness. They can believe they are helping the world, complain that the government/university doesn’t support them enough, claim they are poor, feel as though are getting smarter, act superior to other people, enjoy perpetual three day weekends, and sleep in every day of the week!

After acquiring a Masters Degree that will not increase their salary or hiring desirability, many white people will move on to a PhD program where they will go after their dream of becoming a professor. However, by their second year they usually wake up with a hangover and realize: “I’m going to spend six years in graduate school to make $35,000 and live in the middle of nowhere?”

After this crisis, a white person will follow one of two paths. The first involves dropping out and moving to New York, San Francisco or their original home town where they can resume the job that they left to attend graduate school.

At this point, they can feel superior to graduate school and say things like “A PhD is a testament to perseverance, not intelligence.” They can also impress their friends at parties by referencing Jacques Lacan or Slavoj Žižek in a conversation about American Idol.

The second path involves becoming a professor, moving to a small town and telling everyone how they are awful and uncultured.

It is important to understand that a graduate degree does not make someone smart, so do not feel intimidated. They may have read more, but in no way does that make them smarter, more competent, or more likable than you. The best thing you can do is to act impressed when a white person talks about critical theorists. This helps them reaffirm that what they learned in graduate school was important and that they are smarter than you. This makes white people easier to deal with when you get promoted ahead of them.

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