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August 29, 2007

Cartographies of Pathos

If you didn't get a chance to see the train wreck of a Q&A offered up the other night by Miss Teen South Carolina, don't worry, that's what the YouTube is for. Morning Toast offers up the clip for you, along with a useful "tube map" of the answer:

As hard as it is to watch, it's hard not to watch, and hard not to laugh at "the Iraq, everywhere, like such as." Wow.

It's instructive to me, though, as an amazing example of exactly what's wrong with teaching to the test, if you'll forgive my lapsing into allegory here. This young woman was clearly coached on how to generate perfectly vapid and valid answers to the types of questions asked at pageants, and to her eventual (and probably long-term) dismay, she got a question that didn't fit into the "answer machine" in her head. The result is gibberish, made all the more embarrassing by the fact that she refuses to acknowledge it as such. And she may not have even realized it at the time.

You think a body's writing ability can be gauged accurately by a 30-minute, 5-paragraph response to a pageant question? Take a look at the result. Watch it twice if you have to.

I for one welcome our new pageant robot overlords.

August 26, 2007


In less than 24 hours, my first course of the new semester and year will be complete. I'm teaching our methods course this fall, and it's been something of a struggle trying to pare down first what I wanted to do into what I needed to do and then that into what I will actually do.

At last count, I'm trying to do the work of roughly 6 courses in one. I've had an itch to teach this course for a couple of years now, mainly because I think I'm only now beginning to appreciate its usefulness (never having had a methods course myself). But it has been frustrating trying to work it down into something manageable, at the same time that it's been fun to reacquaint myself with a bunch of work I don't normally rely upon in my own scholarship.

Once I have the syllabus webified, I'll post the link, and you can tell me how much is missing.

See ya.

August 17, 2007


Sports entry alert.

It's been a while since I was blogging regularly, and so I haven't had much chance to sing the praises of my Northside boys. If the Reds' 6-1, 7th inning lead holds, then the Cubs will be alone in 1st place of their division for the first time since April of 2004, if I remember rightly. And they were last in 1st when it mattered back in 2003, back when this was just a wee blog, and they were getting ready to tank to the Marlins.

Interestingly enough, there are only 2 regulars left from that team just 4 years ago (Zambrano & Ramirez), 3 if you count Kerry Wood as a regular. And the 4th player from that NLCS on the Cubs, Derrek Lee, played for the other side.

Besides the roster turnover, one of the big differences between that year's team and this year's is the attitude of the respective coaches towards youngsters. I'm struck regularly by how Piniella is willing to give the kids a shot, even if and when they struggle. It's been great to watch Fontenot, The Riot, Pagan, Murton, Fox, EPatterson, Cedeno, et al., not to mention the various pitchers who've gotten shots. They look like they're having fun, and as I've had a lot of chances to watch baseball this summer, I'm having fun too. I think they've got a good shot at the postseason this year, but even if they stumble, this is the first year in a long time where we haven't had to place all of our Cub eggs in a couple of pretty fragile baskets.

Oh, and I should mention that, when you have a 26-year-old pitcher who's competing annually for Cy Youngs and who's never been on the DL, you don't allow him to test the free agent market, even if it does take Zito money to keep him. The Cubs did Zambrano right today, and their fans as well.


August 16, 2007

Top Chef, Season 3

It's a slow summer for my various telefetishes, and thus best suited to picking up disc by disc of shows that didn't make first cut. For example, I've knocked off one season of Bones and two of Weeds over the past month or so.

But thanks to Bravo, the summer's not quite a wasteland. The only show I watch right now religiously is Top Chef which, along with Design Star, according to Laura, "should be required viewing for people who must work in teams or committees because they often reveal quite clearly how and why teams work or don't work." I couldn't agree more, but partly because I too am hooked on shows like that.

I've blogged before about how much tougher it is with TC, given that we can't actually taste the results, and have to trust the judges' decisions, but I've had less problem this season. Not sure why that is, but I wonder if it's not that the challenges aren't designed a little bit better.

For instance, last night was the Restaurant Wars episode, where the 8 folk left were put into teams of 4, given a garage space, and then given about 6 hours to plan, design, and prepare a 30-person service. At first, I was a little shocked at how little time they had to do it, but the difficulty of the challenge really made it obvious where the teams' weaknesses were, and that clearly translated to the judges' disappointment with both teams. This season's challenges have been less about sitting back and creating a pretty plate and more about things like timing and planning (and the pretty plate doesn't hurt). The result is that it's easier to tell who's excelling and who's not.

We'll see if they can keep it up this season--last season's 4-person finale was really poorly edited, such that it was really difficult to tell why the winners won and the other didn't, and I hope that that's not the case this year.

That is all.

August 13, 2007

Year Five, Day One

Seems a little disingenuous to pop on after a long disappearance, and announce my blog's birthday, but here we are. It was four years ago that I posted for the first time, and the voice of me then is not the voice of me now. I think it's a TMBG lyric that goes something like "I was young and foolish then, I feel old and foolish now"?

So happy blogday to me.

That's one reason to return. The other is that a few days ago, I actually had a dream where someone dropped me from their blogroll, and I initiated a huge blogwar to get back onto it. There's no law says my dreams have to make sense. But if you've dropped me recently, watch out!

It may take a while for me to get back into the swing, and I still want to run out some autobio posts, in the interest of achieving quadruple digits post-wise and rolling out a new design in celebration.

That's all for now.