Open Thread

Guys, please bear with me. I am just swamped trying to get things done, and I am having major problems with one of my projects- leading to about 80 students who can not view their final exams yet. A disaster, in other words.

I will be back, I swear. I hate finals.






79 replies
  1. 1
    guyermo says:

    So do students. Turn your final into group presentations and everyone will be happy.

  2. 2
    DougJ says:

    Good luck with this, John. I know how stressful this time of year can be for professors.

  3. 3
    Mason says:

    Screw the professors! This time of year is stressful for the students — especially the ones who are already screwed by having four calc exams in three weeks. I was dreaming calc all night…. that’s just wrong.

  4. 4
    Krista says:

    Oh god, I remember that. One week I had three exams,four term papers due, and was experiencing a bit of a health scare. I was up typing at 4:30am, and a friend made a mildly funny comment. Next thing you know, I’m laughing hysterically, then crying, then laughing, then crying. Sometimes I miss my university days, and then I remember that week of pure hell.

  5. 5

    Do what I did on my Calc final.

    Sign your name.
    Look at test and wonder if you aren’t in the wrong room.
    Hand test in

  6. 6
    Mr Furious says:

    Here at the college I work at, people are really looking forward to getting past next week. Classes end. Grades due. Boom. Then, relax.

    Do what you gotta do now, John. I’ll look forward to your prodigious posting during the summer months….

  7. 7
    Joey says:

    Us students hate finals too John. If I don’t do well on my calc exam, I am fucked….

  8. 8
    Joey says:

    After reading the other comments, it’s good to know I’m not the only one that calculus has messed with. Now if only somebody can explain to me why a pre-med student would need it.

  9. 9
    Slide says:

    Take your time John, nothing is happening in the world of politics anyway..

  10. 10
    RSA says:

    I can’t think of any particular reason why calculus would be useful to medical doctors, unless they go into epidemiology or other areas that involve heavy use of probability or, say, physics. On the other hand, there’s value in general education courses: they promote rigorous thinking and provide breadth, and there’s always the chance people will change their majors. The vast majority of my university course work was in my major (from B.S. to Ph.D.), and I sometimes regret not having explored topics outside it.

  11. 11
    ppGaz says:

    This is all academic AFAIC.

  12. 12
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    The college I went to was staffed with big domes bitterly divided between the viewpoints of the left and the right. I was a history major, and this department was probably the most ideologically divided of all. What I did in order to get as many “A” grades as possible was to take the arguments presented on each side of the ideological divide, stand them on their heads, and present them to other side as my observations. And, of course, since neither side in this epochal dispute ever talked to each other, it was all wonderful news to them. The result being both sides believed that I was on their side, allowing me to sail through the place and graduate with a 3.7 average.

  13. 13

    Paddy O’Shea Says:

    The college I went to was staffed with big domes bitterly divided between the viewpoints of the left and the right. I was a history major, and this department was probably the most ideologically divided of all. What I did in order to get as many “A” grades as possible was to take the arguments presented on each side of the ideological divide, stand them on their heads, and present them to other side as my observations. And, of course, since neither side in this epochal dispute ever talked to each other, it was all wonderful news to them. The result being both sides believed that I was on their side, allowing me to sail through the place and graduate with a 3.7 average.

    Son of a… Son, would you like to be the next Press Secretary? You got the skillz for it…

  14. 14
    srv says:

    I hate finals.

    Then don’t have them.

    Just another facet of your self-hating authoritarian streak.

  15. 15
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    I looked at it as being more of a creative writing exercise than anything else.

  16. 16
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Sometimes I miss my university days, and then I remember that week of pure hell.

    Yeah, college was great, but finals time could be a bitch. I quickly learned to load up on classes that were writing-intensive; I could bang out quality papers pretty efficiently, so the more of those I had and the fewer tests, the better off I was.

  17. 17
    Krista says:

    I quickly learned to load up on classes that were writing-intensive; I could bang out quality papers pretty efficiently, so the more of those I had and the fewer tests, the better off I was.

    True. It’s amazing how quickly you can haul term papers out of your ass when under pressure. Still…it grew frustrating, because while most of my profs were cool enough to accept any interpretation of the material, as long as you could back it up, there was the odd one who took marks off if you didn’t share the same interpretation as he or she did. The subjectivity of it could get a bit frustrating sometimes. Oh well. I had more than enough fun while I was there to make up for any academic frustration.

  18. 18
    DougJ says:

    Anyone else getting their troll on over at swordscrossed? There’s a bunch over there that sound like BJers.

  19. 19
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Probably a New Jersey thing, but when I was a lad “crossing swords” had an entirely different meaning.

  20. 20
    Perry Como says:

    Anyone else getting their troll on over at swordscrossed? There’s a bunch over there that sound like BJers.

    That sounds strangely obscene.

  21. 21
    Krista says:

    Anyone else getting their troll on over at swordscrossed? There’s a bunch over there that sound like BJers.

    Ye gods.

  22. 22
    ppGaz says:

    There’s a bunch over there that sound like BJers.

    Peckerwoods.

  23. 23

    True. It’s amazing how quickly you can haul term papers out of your ass when under pressure. Still…it grew frustrating, because while most of my profs were cool enough to accept any interpretation of the material, as long as you could back it up, there was the odd one who took marks off if you didn’t share the same interpretation as he or she did.

    I remember once for a class actually spending a good deal of time researching Copyright law, and then writing up a paper about how I’d change how it dealt with software to deal with things such as abandonware, etc.(back before there was a name or general understanding of this). They were probably all bad ideas, but it was a pretty new topic in the day(1988 or so).

    My instructor wrote on the paper… “Excellent points, wonderful ideas. If they are, in fact, your own.”

    I was kind of pissed.

  24. 24
    DougJ says:

    Paddy, I think there’s a University of Malmo study about that very phenomenon.

  25. 25

    Anyone else getting their troll on over at swordscrossed? There’s a bunch over there that sound like BJers.

    I cannot confirm or deny my trolling of swordscrossed, because I don’t want to give it away yet.

    But it provides excellent opportunities. I’m going to start repeating SomeGuy, Darrell and Brian’s arguments at them.

  26. 26
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Doug J: For most of those who make that trip the weight loss possibilities are probably minimal.

  27. 27
    Pb says:

    Well I’m posting over at Swords Crossed–it’s entertaining. If it had a subtitle, it’d be “When Red State and Daily Kos Collide”. Sort of the political version of a matter-antimatter reaction.

  28. 28
    tBone says:

    Probably a New Jersey thing, but when I was a lad “crossing swords” had an entirely different meaning.

    I’m still hoping that “wangsentangled.com” will catch on when referring to that site. It seems more truthy.

  29. 29
    ppGaz says:

    I’m going to start repeating SomeGuy, Darrell and Brian’s arguments at them.

    Wash your hands when you’re done.

  30. 30

    Being a professor or a student definitely have their bad days…but it’s still better than other jobs. Where else can you get all the holidays, weekends and summers off? Or, in the teacher’s position get a sub to cover for you?? I love it :)

  31. 31
    Steve says:

    My instructor wrote on the paper… “Excellent points, wonderful ideas. If they are, in fact, your own.”

    I got the same reaction to my best undergraduate paper. I guess it’s a badge of honor in a way.

  32. 32
    stickler says:

    It’s amazing how quickly you can haul term papers out of your ass when under pressure.

    It’s amazing how quickly the professor can tell that you’ve just pulled a term paper out of your ass.

    I’m looking at a pile of 80 undergraduate essays right now, and I’d guess so far that about 30% have “ass” all over them. At least there seems to be some trouble with reading comprehension.

    And the grades will reflect that.

  33. 33
    DougJ says:

    Lee Trevino or whatever his name is agrees with everything I say, so I haven’t gotten to call him TrevRINO. Let’s see what he says when I recommend beheading journalists who won’t report the good news from Iraq.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    I hate finals.

    Amen.

  35. 35
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Gotta love the Scrutators. They are taking Loon Thought to a whole new level.

    Holy Paddy: I think that Bush is divine punishment on America for electing a man who claims to speak for God.

    Leonidas: Bush is right. Bush talks to God. Clinton only spoke to pollsters. We are in Iraq because it is God’s will. Simple as that.

  36. 36
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Wow, Leonidas really brought the crazy with that one.

  37. 37
    Pb says:

    Oh, and sorry John, today just isn’t your day. I know this because it’s *my* day–specifically, my birthday!

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    Happy birthday, Pb. You’re like 25 or something, right?

  39. 39
    RSA says:

    Where else can you get all the holidays, weekends and summers off?

    Good God, I wish this misperception would go away.

  40. 40
    Pb says:

    DougJ,

    No, I passed the quarter-of-a-century mark years ago, I’m turning 28 now (7/25 instead of 1/4)…

  41. 41
    Krista says:

    Happy Birthday, pb!

    No teachers don’t get every holiday and weekend off – often there’s a hell of a lot of marking to do. But, overall, they do still get more time off than the average job.

    It’s amazing how quickly the professor can tell that you’ve just pulled a term paper out of your ass.

    Hm. Well, my ass must be more eloquent, because I never got lower than a B on any of my papers. Either that, or everybody else’s asses were just completely illiterate.

  42. 42
    tBone says:

    my ass must be more eloquent

    Dear God, there are so many possibilities. I’m suffering from joke paraylsis . . .

  43. 43
    MMM says:

    How is your dissertation going?

  44. 44
    tzs says:

    Ah yes, finals…my last set was at the Warburg Institute and no bloody joke at that. Translations from Latin, French, Italian, commentary on pieces from writers like Petrarch and Pioggi (given in the original), etc., etc., and so forth. 3 hours of pure pressure. About the only thing I can say going for it was that we could bring in dictionaries and it was, indeed, only three hours.

    (I think those of us who have suffered through the head-banging agony of writing theses would gladly replace them with final exams.)

    John, good luck and remember: “this too shall pass.”

  45. 45
    stickler says:

    Hm. Well, my ass must be more eloquent, because I never got lower than a B on any of my papers. Either that, or everybody else’s asses were just completely illiterate.

    Ahem. It’s long since been inadvisable for us professors to notice anything significant about our students’ physical asses, so I’ll presume Krista is speaking metaphorically.

    I’ll admit: it’s true that even a tarnished pearl stands out if it’s in a pile of road apples. Grading is somewhat subjective in that way. But it’s hard to pull off a good history research paper without doing the basic work of at least finding a few books and referencing them correctly. (Actually reading them is going the extra mile.) Having a cogent thesis and a coherent argument is also valuable, and few people can just slap those things together.

    One of the essays I just finished was actually pretty eloquent. It also had not one reference to any of the arguments or facts in the book I assigned (on the Vietnam War, as it happens). I presume that it was written — sorry, pulled out of the ass — the night before it was due. The student got a D- for his efforts. The final exam is next week and I’ll keep his name on my “clowns to watch for” list.

  46. 46
    demimondian says:

    Ahh, finals.

    Thank God I don’t have to grade them any more. Of course, nothing will replace memories I have — like the one of a student walking up to one of my colleagues (who was notorious for making sure that there was red ink applied to each blank space on any page of any exam), rolling up his sleeve, and saying, ever so earnestly:

    “Does your pen need a refill?”

  47. 47
    scs says:

    You know, I just don’t get the big deal about calculus. I didn’t take it in highschool cause I was scared off and plus I personally hated the calc teacher. And then tried to avoid it in college. Then finally I couldn’t avoid it any longer and took it and then , thought it was the easiest math class I ever took. Much easier than the obscure matrix math I took in an attempt to avoid Calc (which real math majors took unfortunately- that stuff is still Martian language to me). Basically, here’s what you need to know about calculus in a sentence, from what I remember- take the little top right hand number and put it on the left of the number- subtract one. That was pretty much the main idea there. If I had known that it was so easy I would have taken it much earlier. On the other hand, maybe I had a good t.a. , he gave us lots of examples.

  48. 48
    ppGaz says:

    You know, I just don’t get the big deal

    Tim, John? The relentless spoofing?

    Seriously, you need to police the blog. The whole thing has turned into a spoofing circus.

    Scrutator now has more legitimate posts than Balloon-Juice.

    I realize you guys are busy, but something needs to be done.

  49. 49
    stickler says:

    PpGaz, you clearly don’t understand the sublime beauty of the postmodern world. Reality is subjective.

    Is there really an “scs”? Who knows? Is he/she/it an elaborate, if flawed, Pentagon software program? Or a project of Scientologist nuns with broadband access and too much spare time? Or just DougJ in another of his nefarious guises? (And, for that matter, is DougJ … no, I don’t want to go there.)

    Who’s to say? Reality is subjective. Just embrace your inner Foucault/Derrida/Chomsky, and acknowlege the essential absurdity of this degenerate age.

  50. 50
    ppGaz says:

    Or just DougJ in another of his nefarious guises? (And, for that matter, is DougJ … no, I don’t want to go there.)

    I wouldn’t be the least surprised if it were DougJ. But it doesn’t matter. I contend that the blog-comment cycle doesn’t work when the context is driven by spoofers.

    I’m not convinced that it can work without the spoofers, but with spoofing, I don’t see any way it can work. You just end up with a vehicle for performance art, which is interesting, but it isn’t political comment.

  51. 51
    Pb says:

    Actually there is a case to be made that all you have to do to master Calculus is just to master a bit (ok, a bunch) of menial, tedious symbolic manipulation. For example, the rules for taking derivative of a polynomial only take about ten lines of prolog to express, *and* it has the advantage of being right way more often than the scs method is!

  52. 52
    stickler says:

    You just end up with a vehicle for performance art, which is interesting, but it isn’t political comment.

    Unfortunately, this is probably the Post Of The Day. Unfortunate, in that it’s spot on about this blog, and it’s spot on about our current situation.

    When you think about performance art and politics, well, it’s hard to ignore the sordid evidence of our current White House. The only thing they do well — and not too well at that — is theater. They sure as shit can’t govern.

    We must be living in the End of Times.

  53. 53
    stickler says:

    Speaking of spoofing and identity issues, it now occurs to me that PpGaz ought to just cut out the damned middleman and start his own blog. Bloviate on about whatever the hell you want, man, and so long as you post a couple pictures of your Mustang, I’ll read it every day. Or two.

    Then, if DougJ or any of his dozens of alter egos post up silly crap, you can do the IP search and tell us the seamy truth.

    That’s worth a couple of cheesy PajamasMedia ads, I say.

  54. 54
    Steve says:

    Basically, here’s what you need to know about calculus in a sentence, from what I remember- take the little top right hand number and put it on the left of the number- subtract one.

    I think it takes a special person to write that sentence, but I think it takes an infinitely more special person to contend that John and Tim should care about keeping the blog clean of sentences like that.

  55. 55
    tzs says:

    A recommendation for Prof M.C. Squared’s “A Picture Book of Calculus.” Best explanation of limits I’ve ever seen.

    I still think number theory is harder to understand than matrix stuff.

    And don’t forget the incredible cure-all, the Generalized Bessel’s equation!

  56. 56
    Krista says:

    tbone:

    Dear God, there are so many possibilities. I’m suffering from joke paraylsis . .

    Glad I amused you.

    Stickler – I completely get your point, and will admit that it’s probably impossible to write a coherent history paper in 6 hours. I don’t doubt that it’s completely dependent upon the subject matter. When dealing with English papers, however, you tend to run into the same themes/plots over and over again, and by your third year, it seems that the only things that have changed are the characters’ names and the setting.

  57. 57
    Krista says:

    you tend to run into the same themes/plots over and over again, and by your third year, it seems that the only things that have changed are the characters’ names and the setting.

    Sadly, I just realized that much of that can probably apply to politics as well.

  58. 58
    LITBMueller says:

    Alright, which one of you guys is “Jason Douglass” over at Swordscrossed – DougJ or Other Steve? The “ass” part is classic, and the Darrell-like comment on the MSM in the Iraq post by Trevino was brilliant! :)

  59. 59
    tBone says:

    Alright, which one of you guys is “Jason Douglass” over at Swordscrossed

    I was wondering that too. Gotta be DougJ, don’t you think? Jason Douglass = J Douglass. Unless that’s just Other Steve trying to throw us off the scent.

  60. 60
    VidaLoca says:

    Basically, here’s what you need to know about calculus in a sentence, from what I remember- take the little top right hand number and put it on the left of the number- subtract one.

    No, this is classic material. Keep her on the island!

  61. 61
    ppGaz says:

    Keep her on the island!

    If there were a “her.” But I think it’s likely that it’s spoofed. Do you really want BJ to just turn into Scrutator?

  62. 62
    Pb says:

    tzs,

    I still think number theory is harder to understand than matrix stuff.

    I’d have to disagree–but maybe I just had a good Number Theory teacher (and a bad Linear Algebra teacher…); anyhow, at least with Number Theory, you see where it all comes from–all too often with matricies, they teach techniques, algorithms, a set of arcane rules to follow, more like alchemy or astrology than chemistry or astronomy (or math!).

  63. 63
    demimondian says:

    Pb murmurs:

    For example, the rules for taking derivative of a polynomial only take about ten lines of prolog to express, and it has the advantage of being right way more often than the scs method is!

    And your point is? After all, the entire corpus of the simple group classification only takes one line of Perl or of APL.

    Then again, I suspect that the algorithm for reducing NP complete problems to P-time is probably implementable in one line of Perl.

  64. 64
    Pb says:

    demimondian,

    And your point is? After all, the entire corpus of the simple group classification only takes one line of Perl or of APL.

    Ahem. Ten short lines of Prolog. Saying that something “only takes one line of Perl or of APL” is like saying it only takes one line of binary.

  65. 65
    VidaLoca says:

    Do you really want BJ to just turn into Scrutator?

    No, but the danger of that happening seems so remote that it’s not worth the effort to build the walls and dig the moat. Besides that’s pretty much old-school thinking. Any intruder that appeared on the sensors would be vaporized by the Mighty Death Ray of Snark(tm) before they could penetrate the sector!

  66. 66
    DougJ says:

    I realize this is self-justifying, but I think that spoofing does accomplish a real purpose: it shows that there is no difference between a right-wing poster and someone saying ridiculous things to mock a right-wing poster. There’s a reason why the Daily Show the Colbert Report are the best news shows on television: the right-wing has become so ridiculous that it can only be discussed properly via satire.

  67. 67

    Just give everyone a passing grade!

  68. 68
    ppGaz says:

    the right-wing has become so ridiculous that it can only be discussed properly via satire.

    Agreed. But if you look at Scrutator, where the proprietors seem to encourage spoofing (at least, they take no stand against it) … it’s a very entertaining blog, and I post there on a regular basis. But it’s not really pretending seriously to be something it is not, do you think? That’s because the satire is so good that you often can’t tell what is satire and what is not. That’s what has made it successful.

    Whereas at BJ, unless I missed something, we are “officially” not spoofing here, and not encouraging spoofs. Right? Which creates a different kind of atmosphere.

  69. 69
    Caseyl says:

    Alright, which one of you guys is “Jason Douglass” over at Swordscrossed – DougJ or Other Steve? The “ass” part is classic, and the Darrell-like comment on the MSM in the Iraq post by Trevino was brilliant!

    Damn. Now I’m gonna have to go over for a look. I really didn’t want to – I dislike Trevino quite a bit, and am none too fond of Armando – but if y’all are turning it into a BJ Annex, I’ll just have to, now, won’t I?

  70. 70
    LITBMueller says:

    Armando has spotted you, DougJ! :)

    Maybe a better spoof name would be Stevie Kolbarass? ;)

  71. 71
    SeesThroughIt says:

    the right-wing has become so ridiculous that it can only be discussed properly via satire.

    Man, ain’t that the truth!

  72. 72
    GOP4Me says:

    Agreed. But if you look at Scrutator, where the proprietors seem to encourage spoofing (at least, they take no stand against it) … it’s a very entertaining blog, and I post there on a regular basis. But it’s not really pretending seriously to be something it is not, do you think? That’s because the satire is so good that you often can’t tell what is satire and what is not. That’s what has made it successful.

    Scrutator is not a spoof, pee-pee. Just because you don’t seem capable of comprehending rational positions on issues doesn’t mean that those who posit such positions aren’t serious. Just because you’ve fallen for the liberal media’s inane positions on issues ranging from evolution to Iraq doesn’t mean that those of us who HAVEN’T drank the Kronkite-Rather Kool-Aid Kombo drink have to agree with you. Just because you hate any politician who happens to have an (R) next to their name, particularly if they’re a President, doesn’t mean that we have to agree with you and put Saddam back in power. Just because you disagree with us doesn’t mean we’re so stupid that we have to be secretly agreeing with you.

    Honestly. And you call US the spoofers! Your positions are so nonsensical I don’t think I can even state them accurately. Nor can you, for that matter, I’d venture to guess. Nor can you. Mine are quite simple:

    1. Support God.
    2. Support America.
    3. Support those politicians who support #1 and #2.

    Can you make such a claim, pee-pee? Somehow, I doubt it.

  73. 73
    ppGaz says:

    Scrutator is not a spoof, pee-pee. Just because you don’t seem capable of comprehending rational positions

    Sorry, those two claims don’t go together.

    1. Support God.
    2. Support America.
    3. Support those politicians who support #1 and #2.

    And you began imagining yourself to be an authority on these things …. when? When your high school English teacher told you that you should take creative writing?

    She was right, you should take it.

  74. 74
    GOP4Me says:

    Sorry, those two claims don’t go together.

    Which two claims? Scrutator not being a spoof, and you being incapable of comprehending rational argument? Believe me, the two are quite capable of going together.

    And you began imagining yourself to be an authority on these things …. when? When your high school English teacher told you that you should take creative writing?

    I know what I feel and I know what I love. That’s more than you can say of John Kerry, or of any of the other prominent Democrats we’ve seen in the last 30 years.

    She was right, you should take it.

    This isn’t creative writing, pee-pee. This is real life. Something you and the other members of the “reality-based community” need to get a better grasp of.

  75. 75
    ppGaz says:

    I know what I feel and I know what I love

    Jesus, you’re a ten year old girl. Who knew?

  76. 76
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    I think you just hate STUDENTS, John. And I am not entirely unsympathetic.

  77. 77
    scs says:

    I think it takes a special person to write that sentence

    Who would have guessed that I sentence I wrote on CALCULUS would turn out to be controversial! I must have a knack for controversy. And by the way, I still stand behind scs’s rules of calculus, it helped me get an A. (that was for Calc 1 by the way, never took Calc 2- maybe THAT’s when it gets hard.)

  78. 78
    scs says:

    By the way, John C, since this is an open thread – how about Randall McClure’s letter? Heartbreaking.

  79. 79

    I dunno if anyone else will see this, as this is an old thread, but I had nowhere else to go… I have nowhere to exclaim my horror and revulsion toward the damnable evil Hollywood recycling machine of stupidity.

    They’re remaking Revenge of the Nerds.

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBI.....index.html

    NOOOOOOOOOO! G-ddammit the original was PERFECT! YOU DON’T REMAKE PERFECTION DAMN YOU! (head thumping) (wailing) (gnashing of teeth)

    Damn you Hollywood, you wanna remake something, remake something that SUCKED and do it better. Like, well, Bride of the Monster! Or Beast of Yucca Flats! Otherwise, DIE! (continues weeping)

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