Presentation Done, Good Reading

I can’t talk about the pre­sen­ta­tion. I might have flash­backs. The fact that BOTH my class­es that start next week have group projects is NOT giv­ing me a hap­py.

Personal DemonHow­ev­er, I did read Kel­ly Arm­strong’s lat­est Women of the Oth­er­world book, Per­son­al Demon, yes­ter­day, and then Dana Stabenow’s Pre­pared for Rage today. They were good.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Pre­sen­ta­tion Done, Good Read­ing”

Weekend and School Update

The girl and Sam both had busy week­ends. Katie went out Fri­day and Sat­ur­day, play­ing D&D with friends first, then going to a par­ty with her sweet­ie dur­ing my and Sam’s date Sat­ur­day night. Sam had a com­put­er to deliv­er Sat­ur­day morn­ing, then ran around pick­ing up some things. He went out again yes­ter­day, to the library for me and to the gro­cery store and the farmer’s mar­ket and I’m not even sure where else. Then he did an inter­vew for his pod­cast last night.

This is the last week of my class­es for the semes­ter, so I did a paper for one class and cre­at­ed my slides for a group project pre­sen­ta­tion in the oth­er, then had a cou­ple of quizzes. Mon­day night we do our pre­sen­ta­tion online, and see the oth­er groups’ pre­sen­ta­tions. That class does­n’t have a final, but I do have to take the final for the man­age­ment class, then I’m done.

Next week I start a class every­body is appar­ent­ly sup­posed to take around the begin­ning of their stud­ies, since one of the assign­ments involves cre­at­ing a “plan of study.” DeVry seems to have a lot of these “because we said so” class­es, which is annoy­ing. I’m also tak­ing my first tech­ni­cal writ­ing course at DeVry, though. It will involve more group projects, a bane of my exis­tence.

It’s one thing to work togeth­er in a busi­ness set­ting, where peo­ple’s jobs depend on their per­for­mance. It’s quite anoth­er to be yoked with peo­ple who just can’t be arsed to pull their weight and appar­ent­ly think Bs are high grades. I’m absolute­ly appalled by the num­ber of peo­ple in the 400-lev­el class­es I had this semes­ter who can­not cre­ate a coher­ent para­graph, much less write a paper.

I had the required “write a research paper” class over 20 years ago, at anoth­er school. Either the stan­dards have fall­en hor­ri­bly, or Mer­cer had high­er stan­dards than I real­ized. (I won’t even both­er com­par­ing Agnes Scot­t’s stan­dards to DeVry. It’s too painful.) Of course, if either of those schools had reme­di­al cours­es of any sort, I was unaware of them. Those “teach you what you should have learned in mid­dle school” class­es are a fact of life in all the Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem schools and DeVry. I know that there were some when I took class­es at Geor­gia Perime­ter so many years ago, but they seem to be more and more impor­tant now. I hon­est­ly don’t think they belong in any insti­tu­tion of “high­er learn­ing.” If you can’t read, write, and do basic math before you get to col­lege, you have no busi­ness being there, because you do not have the essen­tial tools required for suc­cess. I sup­pose that makes me an elit­ist.

It’s going to be odd going back to 100 and 200 lev­el cours­es next week. By the time most stu­dents do get to the 400-lev­el cours­es, the true dregs have dropped out or risen out of that sta­tus. Thread­ed dis­cus­sions are such a huge part of online class­es that you get far more expo­sure to your class­mates writ­ing than in a face-to-face class, and you quick­ly find out who can’t or won’t write and who has no clue about how to dis­cuss issues with­out degen­er­at­ing into total non­sense. That part of this semes­ter has­n’t been as bad as oth­ers, at least. I did still run into nut­cas­es insist­ing that this coun­try was found­ed as a “Chris­t­ian nation,” but that’s pret­ty much to be expect­ed any­more.

Europeans Continue Coming to Their Senses

About mod­els and the effects of the media on body image in their pop­u­la­tions, at least. Fol­low­ing Spain’s move last year that banned ultra-thin mod­els from cat­walks, France is act­ing. The “French par­lia­men­t’s low­er house adopt­ed a ground­break­ing bill Tues­day that would make it ille­gal for any­one — includ­ing fash­ion mag­a­zines, adver­tis­ers and Web sites — to pub­licly incite extreme thin­ness.”

British researchers are also rec­om­mend­ing action. “With con­stant images of stick-thin, size-zero mod­els, tiny-waist­ed pop princess­es and actress­es is putting young girls’ health at risk and fuel­ing the rise in eat­ing dis­or­ders, accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Janet Trea­sure of the Eat­ing Dis­or­ders Research Unit at Kings Col­lege Lon­don.”

It’s a relief to know that, some­where in the world, peo­ple are pay­ing atten­tion to this stuff. It’s tire­some to hear the con­stant folderol about the “obe­si­ty epi­dem­ic” here in the U.S., with almost no bal­anc­ing cov­er­age.

Poetry Question

In hon­or of Nation­al Poet­ry Month, the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets has been send­ing out a poem a day via email to sub­scribers. I’m enjoy­ing them, but one of them just…

Have you ever found the form of a poem to be so weird that it gets into the way of the mean­ing? I’m find­ing that to be the case with “Fer­rum” by M. NourbeSe Philip. I did get the words, but the for­mat was so dis­tract­ing as to make read­ing a chore, rather than a plea­sure.

TotD: Why is English spelling so odd?

From David Crys­tal, The Fight for Eng­lish: How lan­guage pun­dits ate, shot, and left, by way of Delancey Place.

The Fight for English

In spelling, the [Eng­lish] lan­guage was assim­i­lat­ing the con­se­quences of hav­ing a civ­il ser­vice of French scribes, who paid lit­tle atten­tion to the tra­di­tions of Eng­lish spelling that had devel­oped in Anglo-Sax­on times. Not only did French qu arrive, replac­ing Old Eng­lish cw (as in queen), but ch replaced c (in words such as church–Old Eng­lish cirice), sh and sch replaced sc (as in ship–Old Eng­lish scip), and much more. Vow­els were writ­ten in a great num­ber of ways. Much of the irreg­u­lar­i­ty of mod­ern Eng­lish spelling derives from the forc­ing togeth­er of Old Eng­lish and French sys­tems of spelling in the Mid­dle Ages. Peo­ple strug­gled to find the best way of writ­ing Eng­lish through­out the peri­od. …Even Cax­ton1 did­n’t help, at times. Some of his type­set­ters were Dutch, and they intro­duced some of their own spelling con­ven­tions into their work. That is where the gh in such words as ghost comes from.

Any desire to stan­dard­ize would also have been hin­dered by the…Great Eng­lish Vow­el Shift, [which] took place in the ear­ly 1400s. Before the shift, a word like loud would have been pro­nounced ‘lood’; name as ‘nahm’; leaf as ‘layf’; mice as ‘mees’.…

“The renewed inter­est in clas­si­cal lan­guages and cul­tures, which formed part of the ethos of the Renais­sance, had intro­duced a new per­spec­tive into spelling: ety­mol­o­gy. Ety­mol­o­gy is the study of the his­to­ry of words, and there was a wide­spread view that words should show their his­to­ry in the way they were spelled. These weren’t clas­si­cists show­ing off. There was a gen­uine belief that it would help peo­ple if they could ‘see’ the orig­i­nal Latin in a Latin-derived Eng­lish word. So some­one added a b to the word typ­i­cal­ly spelled det, dett, or dette in Mid­dle Eng­lish, because the source in Latin was deb­i­tum, and it became debt, and caught on. Sim­i­lar­ly, an o was added to peple, because it came from pop­u­lum: we find both poe­ple and peo­ple, before the lat­ter became the norm. An s was added to ile and iland, because of Latin insu­la, so we now have island. There are many more such cas­es. Some peo­ple nowa­days find it hard to under­stand why there are so many ‘silent let­ters’ of this kind in Eng­lish. It is because oth­er peo­ple thought they were help­ing.


1 William Cax­ton intro­duced the print­ing press to Eng­land in 1476.

Pirates!

Not the nice, John­ny Depp kind, no. The pillage/rape/murder sort, spiced up with demon-wor­ship­ping shark peo­ple.

Tonight was date night, and I was impa­tient to be back to our game. We’d left off at a very unre­solved point the last time we played, before the week­end. It would be almost impos­si­ble for some­one else to enter that game at this point, so we played oth­er things while Hope was vis­it­ing. I did­n’t mind, but when you’re in the mid­dle of sneak­ing in to a pirate king­dom ward­ed by psion­ic killers, you real­ly, real­ly want to know if you’ll make it out again!

Katie went out with her beau and friends, and Sam brought din­ner home. He had to run errands before com­ing home, which we try to avoid on Wednes­day nights, espe­cial­ly, but some­times it hap­pens.

Warn­ing: Gam­ing recap next. Skip if you hate such things.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Pirates!”

Review: Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher

Writing to Change the World
I haven’t actu­al­ly fin­ished Mary Pipher’s Writ­ing to Change the World yet, so it’s prob­a­bly weird for me to be doing a review. It’s a real­ly meaty lit­tle book, though, and I haven’t fin­ished it because I keep going back to re-read sec­tions or copy some of the quotes scat­tered through the text.

The focus of the book is on per­sua­sive writ­ing. I like the fact that Pipher acknowl­edges the pow­er of sto­ries and fic­tion to inspire change.

I’ve got to return it to the library (it’s way late, because I did­n’t want to let go of it), but I’m def­i­nite­ly going to find a copy of my own soon. As I real­ly don’t buy that many books, pre­fer­ring to read them from the library, buy­ing a copy after I read the library’s copy is pret­ty high praise.

I’ve admired Pipher for years, since read­ing Reviv­ing Ophe­lia and The Shel­ter of Each Oth­er, but some­thing I learned today rais­es her even high­er in my esteem. Last year, she returned an award she received from the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion to protest the APA’s con­tin­u­ing sup­port of tor­ture by the U.S. gov­ern­ment. The arti­cle includes her let­ter to the APA, and I encour­age you to read it.

Long Monday

I was so busy Mon­day, and so wiped out, that I actu­al­ly scrib­bled this out on paper and just now (Thurs­day) got a chance to type it in.

We had Hope until this morn­ing, which was nice. But then she left, which I knew would hap­pen, but it still was­n’t as nice. I miss her! Kioshi did final­ly decide that she might not be so fear­some, and per­mit­ted her to offer scritch­es while he stropped her ankles to mark her. I fig­ure that made Diana (Hope’s dog) very curi­ous when Hope got home!

The only good that about her depar­ture is that she had to leave to come back, right?

Katie had an appoint­ment, then we ran some errands, then we came home and col­lapsed. Pret­ty bor­ing, all in all.

Whoops! WordPress Plugin Update Issue

One of the neat things about Word­Press 2.5 is that when a plu­g­in that’s in the Word­Press Plu­g­in Direc­to­ry is updat­ed, you get a mes­sage ask­ing if you want to down­load the new ver­sion or upgrade auto­mat­i­cal­ly. If you use the auto­mat­ic option, Word­Press down­loads the new ver­sion, deletes the old one, unzips the down­loaded file, and reac­ti­vates the plu­g­in. It’s mar­velous­ly sim­ple, com­pared to down­load­ing, unzip­ping, delet­ing, upload­ing, and reac­ti­vat­ing things man­u­al­ly. Until last night, it worked beau­ti­ful­ly.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Whoops! Word­Press Plu­g­in Update Issue”