Saturday, 16 December 2006

The History Carnival's Annual Happy Holidays Party (as Reported by an Ignorant, Belligerent Lush) The 2006 History Carnival Happy Holidays Party started with a bang. Someone had circled the twenty-third on the dry erase board and scribbled "Scott's B-Day!" underneath it. Then David Parker informed me of how special I could have been. "Should held out for two more days." I slammed down my spoon and asked him whether he wanted to take it outside. He's lucky Donny and the warehouse crew held me back. Had they held out for two more minutes, I could have killed him. Instead, I brushed the cake from my lap and walked away. I spied Nathanael from accounts receivable in the corner chatting up one of the temps about the origins of French nationalism. "Origins schmorigins," I said, "American nationalism rules! Every elementary student knows that!" They looked at me funny and muttered something about "exports" and "pinochle" while I went to get Donny to hold me back again. I couldn't find him, though, so I let the matter drop and mingled. In the copy room, I ran into Mr. Salesperson-of-the-Year himself, Tim Abbott, who was trying to convince H.R. people to trade short snorters with him. He may even have been successful. Last I saw, he was in his cubicle carefully explaining to the new girl from Duluth how snort shorters, he mean shot snooters, check, that's snot shooters—last I saw, he'd obviously convinced someone to play along. I thought Gavin from marketing might have gotten in on Tim's fun, what with all the Bing-Bong-this and Bing-Bong-that, but Jenny from reception told me it was all about his great-grandfather. I don't know. I think he was tipping back the applejack with Lars Smith and the creepy guy stalking the planters. (Someone should tell that fellow about the miracle of modern chemistry. The styrofoam bits in the "dirt" seemed to confuse him.) On my way to the conference room, I overhead Natalie Bennett and some women I didn't recognize discussing something in the hall. One of them asked in fawning disbelief: "Really? A new hymnographer?" "Surprise, surprise," I said, "Oprah and her minions 'discovered' a genius new poetess no one cares about." I waited for them to laugh, but they just stared at me like I hadn't made quotation marks in the air. (Remember that joke about feminists not having a sense of humor? It's no joke. You really do need a penis. If only there were some book I could read to understand how feminazis think. What? Thanks! Wait, I said feminazi. This one won't do me any good.) Over in the conference room, Zendo tried to convince me that the South lost the Civil War for tactical reasons. As if. Zendo (or, as I like to call him, "The Zen Meister") might have been more convincing if I hadn't seen the bong-snorters in there with him and Richard Baker earlier. Not that I dislike Richard. The man can teach anything to anyone like snap. The other day I learned everything worth knowing about Ancient Egypt in...
Reverse-Engineering Other People's Prompts: A Contest (x-posted to the Valve ) The following searches brought potential plagiarists to Acephalous the last two weeks. What do you think the prompts prompting their searches looked like? Consider, for example: “Is Tyler Durden a masculine character?" Really? Someone needed Google to answer that? I find it difficult to imagine the motivating prompt: Is the central character in a novel epitomizing the compensatory masculinity of “a generation of men raised by women” really all that masculine? Your answer should take the form of a “Yes” or a “No.” Students choosing the latter must also identify the occupant of Grant’s Tomb. Failure to do so correctly will result in my friends and I reconsidering our position on compulsory sterilization. Some searches resist identification by virtue of their excessive generality, like the one demanding Google produce a “good reading [of] ode on a grecian urn.” Do such searches betray the desperation of a beleaguered and waning faith in student intellection? Over the course of the semester, your profound ignorance of history, literature, culture and the fundaments of English grammar convinced me that anything resembling an argument written in anything approximating standard English is almost too much to ask. I would no more entrust you with a sentence than a baby with a machete, but as an oral exam would remind me that you exist outside the nightmare my therapist recommended I consider the fifty minutes I spend with you demons three times a week, I have no choice but to suggest someone else write your paper for you. Straight plagiarism is preferred, since your transparent paraphrases will only force me to spend ten seconds resenting everyone who decided the world would be a better place if no one strangled you. Then there are the students who leach the fun from this contest by including the prompt in their search, e.g. “What are the elements of our personality? Which of these elements are the result your heredity and which are the results of your environment? Was nature or nurture more important in your development? How did you become the person you are? free sample essays." That search inspired me one of my own: What is social darwinism? Did it really exist? Or did people believe in different evolutionary theories, like those of Lamarck? Were they aware that they did, or did they think they were good Darwinians? free sample essays Sadly, I’m one of the only people capable of answering those questions. But enough about me. What prompts do you think compelled savvy undergraduates to venture the following searches? “Chiasmus? Examples of in [The] Crying of Lot 49?" “What does biology have to do when you have a chemist botanical gardener kicking your ass?" “Corey Haim’s comment [about] Darwin was?" “[What] academic experiments [have been] done on fish with controlling pills?" “How [do you] cite a blurb [in] MLA [style]?"

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