Monday, December 19, 2005

Glory! Glory!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The grading is finally done! I wish I could share some of the more ridiculous papers with you all, but the amusing ones are very distinctive.

Update: I think I can share this without trouble. The final project for my students was to propose a "landscape intervention" and support the proposal with references to the readings. This allowed students to be creative and write about many different types of changes they would like to see in the world. There were a number of selfish, shallow proposals and many creative, compassionate ones. There was also one student who decided to propose that our university should build a new stadium for the football team. Guess what? The university IS building a stadium on the very spot she suggested in her paper! The professor decided not to disipline her, but I think it would have been fair to flunk her. Thoughts?

Update: I emailed the stadium student about her paper and her grade. She had the nerve to write back that she shouldn't be "penalized" because it is common knowledge that the University is building a stadium. (Never mind the fact that no where in her paper did she mention that the university was already building it.) I am growing to hate the word "penalize."


Saturday, December 17, 2005

female academics do the housework

I had a conversation with my advisor the other day. She was discussing the process of hiring new faculty, which they are about to do. She mentioned how she and the other female prof in the department are tired of having to do all the administrative work. Apparently none of the male faculty do anything to help with the running of the department. The ironic thing about this is that the women, who do this extra work don't get extra pay for this, instead they are turned down for raises because they aren't as prolific in publishing. What kind of justice is that? Has anyone else noticed this in other academic departments?


Where I've Been

Fun, fun, fun.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The War on Christmas

This is a hilarious transcript from CNN which I discovered on

Merry Christmas or happy holidays, a Christmas tree or a holiday tree, Which should it be? It depends on whom you ask. We've seen controversy, most notably prompted by the White House. It sent out cards, this card as a matter of fact, wishing a holiday season of hope and happiness. No mention of Christmas.

Some thoughts now on the subject. Sam Seder hosts the show "Majority Report" on Air America Radio. Bob Knight is the director of the Culture and Family Institute, it's affiliated with the Christian conservative organization, Concerned Women for America.

Gentleman, great to have you with me.

SAM SEDER, HOST, "MAJORITY REPORT": Thanks for having us on.

PHILLIPS: Let's start with the holiday card. What do you think, Sam?

SEDER: Listen, as far as the war on Christmas goes, I feel like we should be waging a war on Christmas. I mean, I believe that Christmas, it's almost proven that Christmas has nuclear weapons, can be an imminent threat to this country, that they have operative ties with terrorists and I believe that we should sacrifice thousands of American lives in pursuit of this war on Christmas. And hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

PHILLIPS: Is it a war on Christmas, a war Christians, a war on over-political correctness or just a lot of people with way too much time on their hands?

SEDER: I would say probably, if I was to be serious about it, too much time on their hands, but I'd like to get back to the operational ties between Santa Claus and al Qaeda.

PHILLIPS: I don't think that exists. Bob? Help me out here.

SEDER: We have intelligence, we have intelligence.

PHILLIPS: You have intel. Where exactly does your intel come from?

SEDER: Well, we have tortured an elf and it's actually how we got the same information from Al Libbi. It's exactly the same way the Bush administration got this info about the operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Is this my chance to be a villan?

Why do students email the day before the term paper is due to ask, "does it have to be four pages and an image or three pages and an image"? Is it wrong to just ignore them? I know the professor explained this in class and I explained again during section.


Sexism is Alive and Well in the Academy

Since I really should be writing a term paper I thought I would reflect on sexism instead. This September I enrolled in a large undergraduate class called "Environmental Awareness." This is the only class at my university that covers "environmental psychology," one of my academic interests.

Unfortunately, the professor was very strange. The class was large; perhaps 250 people and he clearly had the lectures down to a science. I was immediately bothered by his tendency to use slides of children's picture books of dinosaurs from the 60's while lecturing on evolution. This was not irony on his part.

He frequently made all sorts of unsubstantiated claims related to the evolutionary differences between the sexes. For example, he claimed that girls should be more interested in climbing trees than boys because women are lighter and so more likely to take shelter in trees. Never mind the fact that women have less upper body strength than men and need extra body fat to support reproduction. But the last straw for me was when he mentioned that female graduate students were "dumbing down" the species by delaying reproduction in favor of education. He made this comment casually, in the middle of a lecture on human evolution.

I was very upset, but sitting on the far edge of the room, hidden behind a podium, so I didn't feel I could interrupt him at that moment. So I emailed him very politely mentioning that while I thought his comment might be appropriate speculation for a casual conversion, I didn't think that his unfounded speculations were appropriate to be presented to a class of 200 impressionable young adults.

He responded to my email, claiming that he was actually very concerned about this issue and the fact that female grad students frequently had children while in grad school and then decided to quit their programs. He also mentioned that this theory about "dumbing down" the species didn't originate with him, in fact a famous evolutionary biologist had first made this observation in his book "........." (I have now forgotten the title of the book.) This is a psychology professor at a major university. What is wrong with academia?


Friday, December 09, 2005

The End is Near!

So this week is that last week of classes. Hooray! I survived my own classes and feel very relieved. Now I just have to survive writing a couple of term papers and GRADING. I mentioned that my car was stolen the week before Thanksgiving, well I found the car, but none of our stuff was inside it. My grading sheets and a whole sections poster projects were in the car, (so my blog must remain anonymous). I have had to request that students return to me their first assignment. Their participation in section I’m reconstructing from the written discussion questions I collected from them. Then there are the posters that I hadn’t graded, those I’m asking for the written materials/rough draft, which I have to attempt to grade. It’s horrible!
In other news, we are moving! Currently we rent a bungalow in a lower-middle class neighborhood about thirty minutes from our University. Since we have had such bad luck in our current neighborhood and hubby is transferring to the University next quarter, we were ready to move. Luckily, the lecturer I’m TAing for is moving and so we are going to be renting her cohousing condo. I’m very excited! We will be able to bike to the University. Also, every household cooks dinner once a month, so we won’t have to cook several nights a week. They also have a community garden, a community orchard, a community house (great for parties), and a woodshop. We are going to move over the holiday break. I’m not looking forward to the process, but I can’t wait to make a new start in a new place.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Has the Edutainment Trend Gone Too Far?

I’m not sure if I should be frightened or impressed. Here is a list of websites offering various types of simulations of real life or “educational” games, some of them are quite bizarre:

News Gaming
Simulation meets political cartoons. We are a team of independent game developers who believe video games are not simply an amusement. Games and simulations can also make us think about what is going on in this world. Periodically, we will use games and simulations to analyze, debate, comment and editorialize major international news.Come and join us. Play with fire.”

The Serious Games Initiative

Unicef Games
(You get to airlift supplies to Guatemala.)

The Rainforest Foundation
“Help us stop the carve-up of the Congo rainforest!”
(It didn’t work on my computer.)

Kids, Play With Your Food
"The Fantastic Food Challenge, a package of four computer games, is designed to teach people who get nutrition aid such as federal food stamps how to make better use of their food.”,2101,64593,00.html


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Most scientific papers are probably wrong


Wandering the Web

I tend to wander around on the web quite a bit. It’s amazing what you can find if you look a little more deeply into some faculty web pages:

I would also like to hang out with this guy: There isn't enough emphasis in our culture on the importance of just having fun; not the kind of mind numbing fun you have when you waste a whole day playing video games, but truly exciting and stimulating fun, the kind that makes you feel really alive. From that website I managed to meander over to this class website, "Experiments in Interactivity," I wish I could take that class.


Bad Luck

We have had the most amazing string of bad luck lately. At the beginning of the quarter, my car broke down. It's so old that I wasn't sure we should fix it, so it's been sitting at my father's house. Then Beorn's favorite cat went missing, we searched everywhere, but it turned out that she was killed by a stray dog. We are still mourning. Then last Sunday our other car was stolen. By Tuesday our BOK (big orange kitty) was ill, so I borrowed a car and took him to the vet. It turned out that he had a fever of 106, which apparently was high enough that the vet was concerned. We spent the rest of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday worrying about BOK. We gave him antibiotics and injected him with chilled subcutaneous fluids to bring down his fever. When he decided to hide under the bed, I checked on him every twenty minutes. Yesterday, after we shot him up again, he suddenly decided that he was feeling better. He sat up and began eating. So I'm overjoyed, it's amazing what can make you thankful when things have been crappy. I'm just happy that my cat didn't die.


Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

-Mary Oliver

Since I'm a late-comer to the world of blogging and all the good blog names are taken, I decided to rely on my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, to supply the memorable quotations that frame my page. The address of this blog is "asmallgreenangel," which originates from another Oliver poem, "Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine." I have, for many years, felt honored when I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird. When I read that poem I thought it was lovely. Apparently hummingbirds only occur in the Americas and so the mythology surrounding them comes solely from Native American tribes. The sketchy information I gleaned from the web indicated that some tribes believe hummingbirds are messengers from the gods, i.e. angels.