Saturday, September 19, 2020

News and Updates

1. The frantic opening two weeks of the semester that all academic advisors experience is slowly winding down now, which is a good thing since this is about the time when faculty begin their first hectic period of assignments due.  The two positions alternate their stressful periods throughout the semester, which makes it fun when you are employed in both roles.  It’s a never-ending festival!

2. I have no idea which of my neighbors have cats.  I do, however, know PRECISELY which ones of them own dogs.  I did not ask for this knowledge, but it has been forced upon me anyway.

3. I may need to take a break from the news cycle.  It isn’t doing my mental health any good, and by this point nothing I hear is going to change my mind.  Trump is a Fascist and so are his enablers.  This is the last free election we will ever have if he is declared the victor.  It will take decades to recover from this regime, if it can be done at all.  I know this already.

4. Yes, Fascist.  I know what Fascism is.  I know that this is what we are experiencing.  Honestly, it feels way too much like 1937 in Germany for my comfort level.  If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done when the Nazis took over, you have only to consult your day planner.  Try to be better than that.

5. There is not enough Great British Bake-Off on Netflix to compensate for all of this.

6. Lauren is recovering nicely from having her wisdom teeth taken out this week.  Fortunately she comes from a family with generally uncomplicated wisdom teeth and reasonably quick recovery times, though she did inherit my tendency to have anesthesia take a long time to kick in and a long time to wear off.  No, I took no videos.  Those would not be right.

7. For employment purposes I have to take two hour-long internet classes on how not to be an asshole.  I thought I had that pretty much figured out (seriously – if you’re older than 25 and haven’t figured that out what hope do you have?) but apparently I have to prove it to them.  I passed the first one a while ago and then forgot about the second one until today, so I’d better get cracking on that.  “Quiz time!  Here is a Situation!  You have three response choices: a) Be an Asshole; b) Be an Asshole in a Slightly Different Way; c) Not Be an Asshole.  Which do you choose?”  We’ll see how it goes. 

8. I wandered into Home Campus this week to pick up some files – the first time I’ve been on campus during normal business hours since March.  It’s kind of eerie.  I have no idea how long we will continue to have face-to-face classes as an option – I suspect not long – and I’m glad that I moved all of my responsibilities online.  Still, I do miss going in and seeing people as more than pixels on a screen.

9. continues to refine what they think my heritage is.  At this point, if I took them at their word, I’m not even sure I’d be related to my brother anymore.

10. I’m actually getting a number of genealogical documents sent to me these days, which is a lot of fun when they arrive.  Of course, sometimes it gets weird.  My grandmother’s birth certificate lists her as male, which I’m sure would have come as a great surprise to my grandfather.  And for some reason I recently received an envelope addressed to my great-grandfather, which is a bit ironic considering that it contained his death certificate.  It’s the small absurdities that make life in 2020 a bit less grim.


LucyInDisguise said...

1. So, in this somewhat less frantic period, are you[professor] allowed to consult with your[advisor]self when the whole plan goes hull-down?

2. Some of us are inflicted with both. Count yourself among the lucky ones.

3. Break? Hell no! You have to suffer along with the rest of us. If we don’t get a break, neither do you.

4. I see you’re coming around to my view that they’re following the Nazi playbook a little too close for comfort. The differences are comparatively insignificant,

6. But they woulda been great videos …

7. The correct answer is: ‘a’. It was always ‘a’, It will always be ‘a’. The alternatives do not meet the necessary qualifications for consideration. [I’m actually working on my Doctorate so that everyone will have to call me Dr. Asshole.]

10. Fortunately or un, absurd is now the new normal.



David said...

1. I always consult with myself. Sometimes you just need expert advice. And sometimes the echo chamber is comforting.

2. I'll count myself lucky when those damned mutts shut up and let me sleep.

4. Coming around? Dude, I've been blowing that horn since before der Sturmtrumper was even inaugurated.

6. Yes, yes they would have. I was there watching it live. ;) But some things just don't need to be preserved for posterity or shared on social media.

7. I've been called worse.

10. Indeed.

Rest in Power, RBG. May we live up to your legacy.

LucyInDisguise said...

1. But do you get paid for that? If not, if I were you, I’d strike. Some of those Professors can be serious jerks.

4. :D [Snerk, giggle, snort … Gotcha!]

6. You’re thinking small again. Social media ain’t got not $100,000 prizes.

7. No. Didn’t call you anything. You threw a pop quiz and gave three potential responses:

“Quiz time!  Here is a Situation!  You have three response choices: a) Be an Asshole; b) Be an Asshole in a Slightly Different Way; c) Not Be an Asshole.  Which do you choose?”

I selected my answer. It is not possible for you to out-asshole me. You are FAR too civilized. (And besides, “[f]or employment purposes” you took (and presumably passed) “two hour-long internet classes on how not to be an asshole” (emphasis added). Game. Set Match.

I probably should have spelled it out as you did. I just assumed everyone would mentally insert the only applicable word. And that second sentiment is going to be one long, tough row to hoe.


David said...

1. Mostly I get paid in sandwiches, but some days that's enough.

4. Indeed. :)

7. I know you didn't call me anything there. I'm simply pointing out that as someone who already has a PhD I have been called worse things than Dr. Asshole (though in point of fact I have been called that too). Badge of honor, sometimes. I did pass the quiz, though, so your point holds. :)

As a rule I try not to challenge people to asshole contests, since (barring a tie) there are only two possible results: either I find myself out-assholed, or I discover I am the bigger asshole. Neither of these are things I want to know, really.

LucyInDisguise said...

1. Hopefully not with a side of humble pie. :D

7. Much to my shame, I tend to prefer to out-asshole other assholes. That’s how I know you aren’t one.

Technical question. Does a Master’s degree out-rank a Ph.D.? if so, what honorific is applied? If none, or the same, why bother going for a higher degree? (Aside from the actual quest for personal improvement*?)

In this day and age, everything seems to be about displaying perceived social status. (e.g.: I own a 2016 Jeep Patriot. A Corvette Stingray is merely showing off. A Bugatti is being an asshole who is also showing off.)

Therefore, unless I can earn some other honorific for the effort, I will be content just having earned a Doctorate in Assholiness. Although, taking the time to explain the difference to someone would be seriously assholey in and of itself, wouldn’t it? Win?


*or in my case, degradation.

Katherine McKay said...

A large part of my great enjoyment of these blog entries, besides the fact that you're my brilliant handsome son (one of two), are the responses from Lucy. While he's not a boy named Sue, he's apparently a boy named Lucy and a really smart one, too. Keep those comments coming, Lucy.

David said...

@Lucy -

A PhD is the degree you get after the Masters degree, usually (there are some fields where it is different, but as a general rule in the liberal arts it's Bachelors then Masters then Doctorate). The PhD is thus considered the "terminal degree" since there is no degree above or beyond it.

There is no particular honorific for Masters that I know of. I was officially "Mr." until I got my PhD, when my title changed to "Dr." Although the only people whom I insist call me "Dr." are people who have annoyed me in some way, so there is that.

A Doctorate in Asshole Studies would probably have to be a competency-based degree program, one that would accept non-academic-world experience for degree credit. I expect that it would be a popular program, actually. :)

In this day and age, everything seems to be about displaying perceived social status. (e.g.: I own a 2016 Jeep Patriot. A Corvette Stingray is merely showing off. A Bugatti is being an asshole who is also showing off.)

Just so.


@Katherine -

Yes indeed. :)

Julie Morris said...

Your mom beat me to it, I too enjoy the conversations between you and Lucy. Heck with more cowbell, more David and Lucy!

David said...



Hey Lucy - we have fans! :)

LucyInDisguise said...

Hmmm. Right. Okay, then …

I’m that guy who, when filling out an application, checks the box that says “some college but no degree”. Never had the patience to ‘go through it by the numbers’, probably from doing too many of those paint-by-number thingys in my youth.

So, apparently, not having much experience with academia, my brain just kinda filled in the blanks. Doctors “practice”. It made sense to me that Masters would have it figured out. (Although, as I sit here pondering that level of ignorance, I realize that I’ve never met a doctor that had it mastered, so there is that.)

Okay. I think I’ve got a bead on it now: after you master it, you go back to school where you learn that you never really had it mastered and you just keep practicin’ hoping maybe someday you’ll get it right?

Got it.

You have successfully reduced ignorance today. (Although, as a statistical percentage of the world’s total ignorance, or for that matter the State of Nevada, not by a whole hell of a lot …)

“Hey Lucy - we have fans! :)” Who wudda thunk?

@ Katherine: Hi, Mom! Thanks, but “… and a really smart one, too” You’re ruining my reputation. Remember? I’m working on that whole Doctorate in Asshole Studies thing? (See above for a refresher. I know it’s difficult, but try to keep up.) 😁 😁 😁

@ Julie: Cowbell?. 😳 It’s entirely possible that I missed something somewhere … of course, that would be my normal state of confusion. 😁

Oh, and thanks to all. You have brightened my day - at it should be noted that this is not an easily completed task - I’m downwind from the West Coast Inferno*. Getting kinda tough to see around here, let alone breathe.



David said...

@ Lucy -

Yeah, pretty much right. You get your Bachelors degree and you think you know things. You get your Masters and you think you've mastered the subject. Then you get your PhD and find out exactly how much you still have to go. It's supposed to be humbling, though it doesn't always work out that way.

And any reduction of ignorance is a good thing in this world. I try to reduce mine incrementally every day. Eventually I make progress.

@all -

I have the best commenters. :)

Ewan said...

You do. I shall proceed to bask in the reflected glory.

I picked up my mail for the first time since February. The frequency of this is not increased by the fact that my mailbox is in the building furthest from me on campus (home department vs. lab-based kinda-sub-discipline). The only thing there that I cared about was that the other LFC fan in my dept had bought me a branded face mask :-).

Your thoughts (spoiler: take your blood pressure medication first) are requested on this:

OK, back to grading. See you in the trenches. Or on the streets.

Ewan said...

Oh, and while I never got an MS, there was a brief time prior to my wife getting her PhD that I figured her correct title was 'Mistress.'

David said...

Oh, some of that glory is all yours, Ewan. :)

I think there is a wonderful opportunity to make masks popular by promoting branded and/or clever masks. There are a few designs that I'd pay money to have, I know that. If the Green Bay Packers could be persuaded to promote them heavily, for example, I suspect that much of the opposition would evaporate here in Wisconsin.

I saw that article, and my basic reactions were 1) I'm not surprised at any of it since I (and many others) saw this coming in November of 2016 (hell, Michael Cohen testified to this under oath last year), 2) the Founders never thought the republic would last but didn't know when it would collapse and now we do, and 3) my hope is that if Trump does refuse to leave the White House after losing the election that he will be removed from it in such a way as to provide a graphic disincentive for all those who would be tempted to follow in that path and a powerful deterrent against his supporters pursuing any further subversive or treasonous activities. Beyond that I cannot say as I do not wish to have visits from Vague But Menacing Government Agencies.

I got my MA (and PhD, in fact) before discovering Doctor Who - otherwise I think I would have been quite happy to be referred to as The Master. :)

Did you ever get those raisins?

Ewan said...

I did, sort of: not the same brand and hence maybe not quite the real deal. I used to have a local store that offered Australian 'flame raisins' which were a delight - but I am a fan of dried fruits in general. I continue to threaten (and sometimes implement) their inclusion in brownies, but that really only serves to create brownies that appeal to me and no other member of the family :(.

I was perhaps hoping for more comment along the lines of "when this has happened in the past, Try These Five Quick Solutions (Number Four Will Make You Wince!)". Thus far the best things to come from it have been (i) friends noting that they would in fact join me in the streets, and (ii) Jenny pushing me to go run first thing in the morning and thus improve my ability to be sanguine throughout the day.

WisDems have definitely won the fundraising event prize this year; hoping very much that y'all can continue to thrive this year.

David said...

As far as I'm concerned those raisins are the main reason to subscribe to Imperfect Foods. And the Meyer lemons. And the random things that they throw into your order instead of what you actually ordered, which makes it kind of a guessing game, I suppose. Last time we got a box we ended up with a pound of ground pork that we hadn't asked for. Not sure what we'll do with it.

Yes, as much as I like raisins, I suspect I'd leave you the brownies. But I do love me a good oatmeal raisin cookie.

The problem with "this is what we did when this happened in the past" is that most of those things involved large hairy men with heavy weaponry, which is not a comforting precedent. We may all be meeting in the streets in less than two months' time.

Why does every day these days feel like the "before" photo of some future textbook?

I'm hoping that the WisDems fundraising savvy translates into political victory. The results if not will not be pretty (vide supra)

LucyInDisguise said...

"Why does every day these days feel like the "before" photo of some future textbook?"






Ewan said...

Large, check.
Hairy, check.
Man, check.
Heavy - hey, I ran today, but I grant you I could lose a few pounds.
Weaponry. Oh. Does this trebuchet count?

David said...

@Lucy -

Yes, yes it is. Sigh. I suppose that should have been obvious.

@Ewan -

Of course a trebuchet counts! Those things were fearsome.

Although I can tell you from personal experience that regardless of any legal restriction on firearms or bladed weapons, you do not need a permit to fire a trebuchet within city limits around here. I sense an opportunity.

LucyInDisguise said...

" do not need a permit to fire a trebuchet within city limits around here. I sense an opportunity."

I know where to find free plans for an appropriately sized, awesome Trebuchet:

Twelve steps and you're ready to fire! I'll provide the ammo ...


David said...

There is a part of me that is very tempted to do this.

I wonder how well that design scales up.

LucyInDisguise said...

We ain't chunkin' pumpkins here.

Don't sacrifice accuracy for distance.

Mount the thing on wheels tied to a large V-8.

Mobile Infantry support!



David said...

A full-scale trebuchet can take out a city wall with a well placed stone. No, we are not chunkin' pumpkins here, not at all.

The amazing part of this is that I know enough people who would be into it that we could probably pull it off. I'm not sure that's wise, but it does sound like fun.

Ewan said...

I have built trebuchets at various scales.

Infantry support is better with ballistae, generally; trebuchets are really just siege weaponry. Hey, we're approaching something I actually know something about! [Not re-enacting, primarily, but a LOT of miniature wargaming and hence military/weaponry history as a side-effect.]

David said...


We can build them all and then move onto the next step.

Looks like we're getting the whole 4Q10D gang together for some good times soon. :)