Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Code Monkey Like You

I was actually cheered up by a NYT article, for once. The internet has really allowed people to circumvent the traditional marketing chain. This is wonderful news for creative types!

I haven't had a chance to explore anything more about Jonathan Coulton, but I love Code Monkey.

Via Half Sigma, which has a lot of great content that I would love to respond to, blog about, argue with, etc., had I the time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I emote, therefore I am

I am so sick of cheap sympathy. I am tired of the phony grief over what happened at Virginia Tech. By phony I mean the cheap and syrupy sympathy from people who have absolutely no connection with the university, people for whom the event is some abstract event they gawk at on the television.

I have gotten multiple solicitations this morning from different universities, some employers and other alma maters, asking for all of us to come together and send notes of condolence in groups—this department, that department. Then, everyone falls all over themselves in a rush to compose the most clichĂ©-filled and saccharine note, usually saying something stupid like, “Now we are all Hokies.” It’s revolting.

First of all, those of us without connection to the school have no idea the pain that the students and families are suffering. Even as bad as it is right now, it will be much, much worse in the future. Six months or a year from now, when the families and loved ones start to come out of their initial shock, they will be screaming with grief. Once the scab starts coming off the wound, all of these flash-mourners will be nowhere around. These cookie-cutter notes do nothing but make the senders feel better. It is especially telling that everyone wants to do this little exercise as a group, so that the group members can earn maximum credit for their pornographic displays of emotion.

The solicitations aren’t even asking for anything useful like money. Have any of these trendy grievers priced a funeral lately? How about weekly therapy sessions?

I won’t say anything because I am coward. But I will believe that my colleagues actually care when they check up on the VT community in a year or five.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hate Crimes Only Go One Way

It is being reported that Cho Seung-Hui, the resident alien who committed the most heinous campus massacre on American soil, wrote notes railing against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans." While Virginia Tech is not releasing any more information right now, I wager the young man’s writing was a bit more pointed than that. I think there is a high probability that VT is scrambling to figure out how to spin what he really wrote. I love that “South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the government hoped the Virginia Tech shootings, allegedly carried out by a 23-year-old South Korean native, would not ‘stir up racial prejudice or confrontation.’” Isn’t that nice? I think the words, “I am sorry,” would be sufficient.

We are living in interesting times, and I know I am not the only one wondering, after each affront, whether this event is “the one.” We are reaching a tipping point, and I think the incendiary event will be relatively mild. I don’t think last assault by a foreigner on our soil will do it, but it is certainly winding the spring tighter.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What’s the Word?

For the heck of it, I went Googling to find a word which means “lover of Scotland or all things Scottish,” in the vein of “Francophile” and “Anglophile.” I found two words, neither of which are perfectly satisfactory and not at all in common usage: “Caledonophile” and “Ecossophile.” (Both, of course, are more pleasing than the more-common Scotophile.) Searching for these two words together lead me to a nice little Googlewhack of sorts. Who says that MySpace.com isn't good for anything?

This is how I chose to waste 20 minutes while the chicken finished baking.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Show of Hands

Thank you to Majority Rights for a pointer to the band Show of Hands. Wow! I love acoustic folk music, but usually just ignore the lyrics. For example, I adore Tracy Chapman and the Indigo Girls (I know, I know!). For the past several days, I haven’t been able to stop playing Roots and Country Life. I have ordered Witness from the band’s website, and can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. Thank you very much, Guessed Worker!

Incompetent and Evil

This post is brought to you in a roundabout way by Mean Mr. Mustard’s comments on a Fred Reed article. Russell’s post about paranoia is interesting and, I believe, debatable. Is it possible to be both incompetent and evil? I think that is more common than we tend to acknowledge.

For example, I am teaching from two different textbook which I think are both. I usually try to give academics the benefit of the doubt. I know that once people get into the Marxist echo-chamber, it is difficult to see any other world-view. Many times, as well, certain turns of phrase are simply poorly-written instead of being deliberately misleading. However, past a certain point I think you have to stop assuming good faith on the part of a text-book author.

Take, for example, del Carmen’s Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice, 6th edition (Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Publishing Company (2003). It informs us that the US Supreme Court runs the political gamut from conservative (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas) to moderately conservative (Kennedy, O’Connor) to moderate (Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, Stevens) (del Carmen, 2003, at 5). This I would classify as incompetent.

More ominously, the textbook maintains that it is almost impossible to define the rule of law as it operates in the United States (del Carmen, 2003, at 23). I would be much less irritated by this promotion of critical legal theory in a book intended for law students, who would be expected to read more skeptically, but this is an introductory text written for para-professionals such as police and corrections officers. It is one thing to alert students to the finer points of an academic debate within a profession, but it is entirely another to use a relatively-obscure academic debate to cast aspersions on the foundations of Anglo-Saxon common law. This I would classify as evil.

What does this have to do with Russell's post? Absolutely nothing. It has just been rattling about in my brain for awhile now.