Filed under: — Joe @ 11:23 am

At one point, early on, I thought of going to law school–not to be a lawyer, but to be a judge. Somehow the idea was appealing to me.

On the other hand…

Sure, it is weak and illiberal to speak slightingly of any considerable body of men; yet it so happens that the only judges I have known have been froward companions, and it occurs to me that not only are they subjected to the evil influence of authority but also to that of righteous indignation, which is even more deleterious. Those who judge and sentence criminals address them with an unbridled, vindictive righteousness that would be excessive in an archangel and that is indecent to the highest degree in one sinner speaking to another, and he defenceless. Righteous indignation every day, and publicly applauded! I remember an acquaintance of mine literally foaming – there was a line of white between his lips – as he condemned a wretched youth to transportation for carnal knowledge of a fine bold upstanding wench: yet this same man was himself a smell-smock, a cold, determined lecher, a voluptuary, a libertine, a discreet frequenter of Mother Abbot’s establishment in Dover Street; while another, in whose house I have drunk uncustomed wine, tea, and brandy, told a smuggler, with great vehemence, that society must be protected from such wicked men as he and his accomplices.


E-portfolios and RSS

Filed under: — Joe @ 6:51 pm

As my electronic portfolio experiment comes to an end with my Comp I class, I’m having some ideas for an article on the subject. I think that most of what I’ve seen about the benefits of this kind of exercise has been on the benefits for students, as writers and as graduates (giving them a transportable, referrable, job resource, for example). But I’ve noticed a new important feature that I haven’t seen mentioned before.

The software I’ve been using, Courseforum, includes an option for an RSS feed of the forum (it’s a wiki-based system), so that with my bloglines (or any RSS aggregator) I can see exactly when, and how often, each student works on each piece. That’s a tool for scholarship of teaching, and for fine-grained analysis of students’ writing process, which can’t really be achieved in any other way. When I go to class on Monday, I can know that over the weekend student X revised her paper three times (twice on Saturday night, both times within a 0ne-hour time span, and again on Sunday afternoon), while student Y revised hers six times (but all six were on Sunday night, between 1130 and 1145). I can also see exactly what changes they made with each revision. It’s a snapshot tool which is unparalleled.


Disappearing Blog

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:41 pm

Thanks to Cyd for pointing out that this Blog was sort of invisible for a while! I think that the problem was when I eliminated the blogsnob script from the template (it was throwing some script errors that bugged me). Somehow I screwed everything up, and I didn’t even know it–because my bookmark points to http://www.mountebank.org/blog/index.php . It was /index.html that was screwed up.

In any case, it’s back and working again–basically I just eliminated that index.html –I hope I didn’t really need it!

Some new evolution textbook stickers–

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:37 pm

The real stickerI’m sure that most of us have heard about this sticker that (with some very devious and dishonest reasoning) the Cobb County school district has decided to put on their Biology textbooks. It’s a very bad move, suggesting to students that evolution is somehow questionable, or unreliable, or different from all the rest of the science (cells, atoms, gravity) they will be learning. The move, of course, was generated by the Intelligent Design movement, the “creationism in a lab coat” subterfuge currently being attempted since creationism itself can not be taught in public schools. Intelligent Design has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, and it does not belong in science classes (although the history and development of this anti-evolution movement, as well as its philosophical and religious roots, would make a great subject for a class in American History, History of Religion, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.)

Gravity is a theoryBut how to combat this kind of thing? How to make the point so clear that it can’t be missed? Well, Colin Purrington (an associate professor of evolutionary biology at Swarthmore–I’ve never met the man, but I’m a big admirer!) Has come up with a brilliant sheet of alternative stickers (see just one of my favorites on the right–there are about ten more, and some of them are even funnier). You can bet that right after Thanksgiving, when Staples is open again, I’m going to be buying me some sticker paper. These just beg to be printed. Thanks, Dr. Purrin! And please, everyone, make a donation to the National Center for Science Education today. Our students need all the help they can get.


A Dark View

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:11 pm

Stephen Maturin in his diary…meditating on life. Not a terribly appropriate type of sentiment for a man (me) on the eve of his tenth wedding anniversary, but Maturin, like all of us, is sometimes subject to these meditations. I am not tonight, but I have been before, and will be again.

Hatred the only moving force, a petulant unhappy striving – childhood the only happiness, and that unknowing; then the continual battle that cannot ever possibly be won; a losing fight against ill-health – poverty for nearly all. Life is a long disease with only one termination and its last years are appalling: weak, racked by the stone, rheumatismal pains, senses going, friends, family, occupation gone, a man must pray for imbecility or a heart of stone. All under sentence of death, often ignominious, frequently agonizing: and then the unspeakable levity with which the faint chance of happiness is thrown away for some jealousy, tiff, sullenness, private vanity, mistaken sense of honour, that deadly, weak and silly notion.


What’s my Humour?

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:31 pm

I tried some of the cute little quizzes at Quizilla to give my Intensive Writing class a break from practice exams today (we met for four days this week–we’re all pretty sick of each other). They enjoyed them, and posted their results on their blogs, so I thought I’d add my own result from the “Which of the Humours Are You” quiz. I think they got me absolutely right!

phlegmaticYou are Phlegmatic. You have a peace-loving nature, and make a good listener and a faithful friend. You do have a tendency to be selfish and stubborn in your worst moments, and your worrying can lean towards paranoia. Phlegmatics should consider careers as accountants, diplomats, engineers, and administrators. You are a somewhat reluctant leader, but your practicality and steady nerve under pressure makes you a natural choice for leadership roles.


And another little brother

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:38 pm

And on the same day, another little brother sold a pilot to NBC!

(too bad, as he told me the story, that it’s a story I remember–and although he sold it as a dark comedy, when it really happened, it was lot more dark than comedy!)

Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:36 pm

A very funny little lesson–thanks, Sir J!
Yiddish with Dick and Jane.

Big Move for my Little Brother!

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:24 pm

Nice work, John–moving up to the bigtime (and to Monterey!)

Today Fish and Game Director Ryan Broddrick also announced the appointment of John Ugoretz as the department’s senior policy advisor to the MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act) Initiative. As a senior marine biologist with the Department of Fish and Game, John was responsible for the planning and management of marine protected areas throughout the state, including acting as the mandate team coordinator for the Marine Life Protection Act and Channel Islands Marine Reserves processes. In his 12 years with DFG, John has been involved in a variety of projects, including monitoring stocks of Pacific herring, SCUBA surveys of marine protected areas and rockfish in Monterey and Big Sur, coordinating the pelagic shark tagging program in Long Beach, and abalone and sea urchin monitoring and management in Santa Barbara. John is a DFG research SCUBA diver, a member of the department’s Diving Safety Board, an avid angler and spear fisherman, and a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain.

They don’t mention, though, among his qualifications, that he used to want to grow up to be a cowboy, and insisted on being called “Bob,” because it was more of a cowboy name!

The Chronicle on paper

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:01 pm

Today the Chronicle of Higher Ed paper edition arrived in the mail as it always does…and the little article about me is there in print, too! How nice! 😎


Upcoming Invasion List

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:41 pm

Sometimes Wonkette is not too funny…but sometimes she really cracks me up!

With Colin Powell gone, the White House looks forward to a slightly less stringent approach to invasion rationale. And, according to this list we found floating around, they’re taking advantage of that:

Country — Reason to Invade

Iran — Part of the Axis of Evil.
Syria — Harbors terrorists.
Kyrgyzstan — Too much like Kazakhstan.
North Korea — Not allowed when on Atkins diet.
Egypt — The pyramid is speaking to me.
Canada — Mmmm….bacon….
Ukraine — Started that whole cellophane wrapping of CDs and we hate that.
Thailand — Well, now that Ashcroft’s stopped spending the weekends there…
The Fauklands — Dirty-sounding name.
Lichtenstein — President does not believe this country exists.
National Geographic Society — On every map, no apparent sovereign.
California — Why not?
Poland — Don’t forget Poland.



Filed under: — Joe @ 9:20 pm

Today’s Patrick O’Brian quote is a description of Jack Aubrey–but I think it applies to me, too.

He derives a greater pleasure from a smaller stream of wit than any man I have ever known.




Filed under: — Joe @ 6:04 pm

A quote of the day from Stephen Maturin in Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander

But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.


It finally came!

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:28 pm

HMS SurpriseI’ve read all of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels, from number one (Master and Commander) to number twenty (Blue at the Mizzen) at least five times. The series (it’s really one multi-volume work) is probably the best historical fiction I’ve ever read, and absolutely one of my favorite, most enjoyable reads of all time. I love the language, the stories, the characters, everything. Even though the series seemed to lose a bit of steam in the last couple of books, I was terribly sad when O’Brian died and we knew that there would be no more.

The Omnibus EditionAlthough I love the Geoff Hunt covers on my paperback editions, they’re getting a bit tattered and worn, from the multiple readings. And for a full hardcover set, the price runs into the hundreds of dollars. So I was enormously excited early last month when I saw that John Berg at Sea Room was going to be selling a new “Omnibus Edition” handsomely hardbound in a boxed set of five volumes, and that the fifth volume includes the small part of 21–the book O’Brian was working on, the little bit that was on his desk, when he died. I ordered it immediately (John Berg’s price is fifty dollars less than anywhere else!), even though it wasn’t going to be officially released until November 4. Yesterday it arrived! And the volumes are handsome indeed, with ribbon bookmarks in the binding, and a good size for reading on the subway or in bed.

I’m ecstatically plunging back into the “music-room in the Governor’s House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon,” and to the “triumphant first movement of Locatelli’s C major,” I’m preparing for an extended cruise aboard the HMS Surprise (and other vessels) in the Royal Navy of the Napoleonic wars.


I made the bigtime!

Filed under: — Joe @ 11:44 pm


I may never be able to complain about The Chronicle of Higher Education again, and I certainly can’t let my subscription lapse anymore. They not only attended and covered the League CIT, they actually sent someone to hear me! And not only that, she even wrote about it–and even included a photo. The little piece (I say modestly) is right in the middle of the Chronicle’s page of “Continuing Coverage” of the conference (their conference blog, to be precise). Right about halfway down the page, there I am.

It may be as close to the bigtime as I ever come. 🙂

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