Archive for January, 2009

woodenradioSandi Toksvig, moderator of the News Quiz, commenting on the selection of Johanna Sigurdardottir to be Iceland’s new Prime Minister:

“What can I say?  More Scandinavian lesbians in charge — it’s what the world wants.”


Have I said how much I love having access to BBC radio on my computer?

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I don’t have any student papers in yet, but this pie chart from GraphJam is seems mighty plausible [I am not responsible for the graph originator’s inability to spell “choice” properly!]:

song chart memes graph
more music charts

Of course, the creators of this graph completely forgot the soundtrack references, which should include “Dare Me”, by the Pointer Sisters. [I just looked at the video for the first time — never would have expected drag from them, but I think the zoot suits age better than their big (and I mean BIG) 80’s hair.]

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Locusts on Prozac
Are a no-no
Spiked serotonin
Tweaks their mojo
So they’re swarming
Oh, they’re swarming!

[cue the sound of whirring wings and relentless chewing]

Yes, researchers have found that high serotonin levels in locusts seem to trigger the change from the green Solitary form to the darker, ravenous Gregarious form.

Strangely, I feel no reason to apologize to the Moody Blues for the filking. But I will refrain from a chorus of “Getting to Gnaw You”…

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Sorry Brooke; the NY Times aren’t enamoured of that minivan you’ve been hawking…. [And honestly, you are able to be so much funnier with better material!]

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Your grass is glass

grassisglass So, we’ve had a touch of sleet overnight, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that people didn’t know have a clue about the inverse relationship between speed and maneuverability…

We’ll see whether the school decides to close before or after things freeze up again for the night.

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snowflake400Well, we are actually supposed to be getting some real snow soon, but that’s not my immediate point. I just got email from a student with the subject line of “Hi!”. Almost sent it right to the Junk folder, since short messages with trite titles from people I don’t know look a lot like viruses or spam to my jaded eyes.

But no, it was a request, made simply to my last name, to add please the student to a course I am teaching that is:

  • Already closed
  • Restricted to majors only
  • Has a waiting list

Short answer: no.  Longer answer: no, and here are some things to keep in mind, among them that course caps are real, faculty adhere to them whenever possible, and forgetting to use a professor’s title or honorific is NOT a good way to start a conversation [especially when you are asking them to violate multiple policies meant to protect everybody’s sanity].

On the bright side, I’ve recently learned that I will have a business meeting in Angry’s town during the summer. She is a delightful dinner companion, and I hope our schedules will allow a meal together.

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mockingbirdhedgewinter I remember back in graduate school reading rec.arts.comics and seeing bizzare tag lines [attributed to the adventures of someone named Marc Lynx, or somesuch] like:

“Wait a minute — those aren’t blender wounds!”

In more official graduate school reading there was the concept of ‘collocation’: words that tended to appear in the company of other words, and not in the company of others.  Researchers can use those patterns in stylistic analyses — last year I heard a fascinating paper about how some lawyers wanted opthalmologists to stop using certain words in their reports because they were becoming ‘code’ for detecting “signs of child abuse”.

Sometimes, though, it’s the unusual word patterns that are most telling.  I get a remarkable # of searches on this site having to do with the raising of chinchillas, even though I was simply joking at the time [and quoting someone else, at that!].

Here’s a fine sentence of that ilk, from today’s NY Times:

For forensic ornithologists, it just doesn’t get any better than this. [link]

Here’s an example of words that don’t go together, but have unfortunately been strung together by someone whose eagerness to sell a desk greatly exceeded his or her understanding of American furniture forms:

Tiger Oak Role Tope Desk In great Condition

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