Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pippy ruminating on a murdered bicyclist

Pippy responds thoughtfully to a story about a man who was murdered on the west side of Chicago while riding his bike to visit his elderly mother
I don't have a solution for street violence but I do feel that fear is not it- for me it begins with creating a society where violence in any form is simply not socially acceptable- this is not how our culture treats it.
The whole thing is here, after some updates on her knitting

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Don't use Hulu

...until the writers strike is settled.

I signed up for Hulu after reading this positive review by Farhad Manjoo on October 29. When I finally got my ticket on Dec 6, I rushed over to check it out, without thinking about the fact that I was *crossing a picket line*. In my defense, at least I didn't watch any programming.

The one time I surfed the site, I thought "damn, this is really cool. It is definitely the future of TV," which is exactly why you shouldn't go there. The writers don't get any money from that site. If the writers don't get a new contract, the day will come when almost all TV is watched on sites like Hulu, and the writers will have effectively taken a massive pay cut and been stripped of their intellectual property rights. A change in medium shouldn't be an opportunity to slash worker's pay.

Ok, I'm sorry I went to Hulu after the strike began. Consider this post a way to make it up.

Hat tip to Molly, who alerted me to this problem by sending me this link.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On posting quotes from student papers

Matthew, in the comments, asks a good question:
I was thinking about this lat night, and I guess my question is whether it is ethical to post quotations from student work online and anonymously. I see why it is done by yourself and others, but what of the legal implications? On the one hand, sharing student work with a name and with criticism could be considered harassment by some, but then again doing so without attribution could be considered copyright infringement (and not under fair use).

That is, of course, if you didn't receive permission to reprint the quotation. If you did, then my question is moot.
I was worried about this, too, because when I posted the students comments, I was stretching an existing policy. I believe teachers need to be able to share student work with each other to improve teaching quality. For that reason, I include the following notice in all my syllabi:
My Rights Regarding Your Written Work
For the sake of improving my teaching and the teaching of others, I reserve the right to save copies of your written work to use as examples for other classes or examples in scholarly articles about teaching philosophy. When your work is used as an example of student work, it will be printed anonymously. If your work contributes to the substance of something I write, I will cite your work following the usual academic conventions. I’ll also probably spend time thanking you and saying you are brilliant. If you do not wish me to keep copies of your work, you must give me a written and signed statement to that effect.
I'm not sure how many students read this note, or how many care. When I use examples of student work in class to teach students, I always use work from an entirely different institution, which avoids the main reason students would object to this sort of thing--that they would be embarrassed in front of their peers.

Well, use in a classroom or scholarly article is not quite the same as a lamenting post on a blog, and although I do use this forum to talk about teaching issues, I can see why a student might object. If anyone objects, I will certainly take it down. I kinda got drawn into this without thinking about it. My first remark was just in a comment thread at another blog, then I moved it here because I thought others might be interested, then I posted a clarification No one actually asked for the clarification, but I felt an instinctive need to represent what had happened accurately.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Clarification on the Iraq and 9/11 comments

Since I've been linked to by Andrew Sullivan, Crooked Timber and the Washington Monthly, I should be precise in describing what my students wrote. Two students clearly said the attacks of 9/11 were the work of Iraq. The third merely said that we should forgive Iraq for "all the terrorism that has happened." I asked the third student to clarify for his final draft what terrorism he thought Iraq was behind, but the student left that paragraph as it was originally written.

Here is a quote from one of the two students who did say Iraq was behind 9/11.
The writing is not entirely clear. I don't know what is up with "[redacted]." But it is clear that she believes we are at war in retaliation for 9/11.

The remaining student was writing a dialogue on the problem of evil. I've returned that paper and don't have an electronic copy of it, so I'm not going to get her phrasing right. Basically, though, one character puts forward the Leibnizian argument that all is for the best. Another character then says "even the attacks on the twin towers" and the first character, in a peculiar mix of relativism and panglossianism says that the attacks were good from the perspective of "the Iraq's"

"If only we had forgiven Iraq for 9/11"

I have now received three (3) student papers that discuss Iraq's attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. All three papers mention it as an aside to another point. I've had two papers on the virtue of forgiveness that argue that if we had just forgiven Iraq for the 9/11 attacks, we wouldn't be at war right now. I just read a paper on the problem of evil which asked why God allowed "the Iraq's" to attack us on 9/11.

The thing that upsets me most here is that the the students don't just believe that that Iraq was behind 9/11. This is a big fact in their minds, that leaps out at them, whenever they think about the state of the world.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To buy accessory of kit now! To buy it going you quick!

Has anyone else noticed that Rob's blog gets really boring during exam week?

I'm afraid you'll probably have to wait another six days (when grades are due) to catch up on the antics of your favorite philosopher. In the meantime, go read this.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spying on myself

I installed Rescue Time to see just how much time I week I waste at the office on blogs and newspapers. I recommend the software: it keeps track of what applications are open and active on your desktop. The advantage is that it does it automatically, so you don't need to keep time logs or anything like that. It should be especially useful for people who bill their time, like lawyers or freelance editors. There are privacy concerns, because your data is stored at their website. But the way I figure it, I'm at my office computer, and this sort of information is available to the administrators anyway. I'm already not surfing porn at work.

My one complaint is that the software seems to underestimate the amount of time any application is in use. I got off of a 50 minute conference call with some of my on-line students to find that the software had logged 10 minutes of time using the skype application. The software can't be underestimating all applications by a factor of five, though, because it logged a total of 20 computers hours for me last week, and I only spend 40-50 hours a week at the office.

So how much time to I waste at the office? If Rescue time is correct, about one hour a week on blogs (Unfogged) and forty five minutes a week at news sites (NYT and Salon). That's not bad, really. I don't do any goofing around at work that isn't on line, so the 20 hours that the software didn't register could easily be all work.

Top Apps for the week of November 25, 2007

MS Word (5 hrs 59 mins)

MS Excel (2 hrs 54 mins)

MS Outlook (1 hr 13 mins) (1 hr 3 mins) (1 hr 1 min)

Windows Explorer (52 mins 9 secs) (33 mins 43 secs) (30 mins 56 secs) (19 mins 59 secs) (16 mins 38 secs)

Update: The software is now far more accurate.