May 11 2009

Darth Greenspan

Category: economy,governmentharmonicminer @ 1:34 pm

Darth Greenspan Read it all at the link.

The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve shares a lot in common with one of the most famous villain characters in the history of Hollywood, Darth Vader, who was first a member of the Jedi coalition when his name was Anakin Skywalker.

May 11 2009

Things I learned at commencement

Category: higher education,humorharmonicminer @ 9:34 am

Just because somebody has posted a sign reading ADAM SMITH at the entrance to the university parking lot, it doesn’t mean the place is automatically filled with enthusiastic capitalists.   It may just mean that people are being directed to other parking lots…   one near ADAMS dorm, and one  near SMITH dorm.  But you can dream.

The side of the stage the faculty sits on is determined by taking the average political position of the faculty, and reversing it.  So the graduate faculty sits on the right, and the undergraduate faculty sits on the left.  Or something like that.  Or maybe it’s reversed, and I’m overthinking it.  Proves I’m a faculty member.

People are given doctorates these days for proving (with voluminous research reported in hundreds of pages) that blind and deaf kids have a harder time in school than other kids.  Good to know.

There seems to be a disturbing trend in doctoral dissertations about people who make “the insanity defense” successfully.  This could be because you have to be insane to start a doctoral program.  Or it may be that these Ph.D. candidates are planning a grim fate for their dissertation committee chairs, and are preparing their defenses in advance.

Tortillas are aerodynamically stable in frisbee-style flight profile, until the forces caused by the spin rate exceed the tensile strength of the tortilla, at which point it lands on somebody’s face.  (Corollary:  students do not pick up the tortillas they have launched.  They’ve obviously been listening to their professors telling them it’s their civic duty to create jobs.)  (Related observation: rolls of TP are even less aerodynamically stable, but are more fun to watch.)

History and poli-sci faculty are likely to wear nice, shiny, dark shoes.  Music faculty seem to wear sandals, or paint-spotted running shoes.  Art faculty don’t wear shoes, unless they’re highly decorative.  Theology faculty, befitting their vows of poverty, don’t wear shoes either.  English faculty wear shoes, but remove them during the commencement address.  Global studies faculty wear shoes of woven hemp, which appear, somewhat mysteriously, to have disappeared in a cloud of smoke before the commencement exercises are over.  (I notice that people who sit near the global studies faculty seem to be in an unusually good mood, as well.)

It is now socially acceptable to be on the phone during commencement.  Since everyone is talking through everything anyway, why not?

Advice for people attending commencement:

1)  If somebody passes you a bag of cubed cheese, don’t take any.

2)  Any joke about the approaching end of a commencement address seems to be able to draw laughs.  But it is still a joke.

3)  All commencement addresses are too long.

4)  Come early, unless you really, really enjoy walking.

5)  Bring a pillow or cushion to sit on.  If you’re a capitalist, bring two, and sell one dearly.

6)  If it’s outdoors, bring a wide brim hat.  This can protect you from flying tortillas.

7)  To impress fellow faculty, tuck a copy of People magazine into the cover of the Journal of Applied Theoretical Exogamous Endo-Philosophical Meta-Studies.  Nod now and then as you read it, and make notes in the margins.