February 28, 2004

Would you like to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Japanese commercial for...something...while grimacing and grunting and floating through the air like Satan?

Sure you would!

He is clearly full of evil spirits. Like rum.

If this man can become governor of California, I deserve to be the Pope. Please alert the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities so they can begin to venerate me appropriately.

Posted by aloysius at 02:00 PM |
I Rock

I am the Manifolds King! I make all manifolds my bitches! (Yea, even space-time itself.)

The problem was this: let Xn={A in O(n) : A2=I}. That is, it's the set of all symmetric orthogonal nxn matrices. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to show that all the path components of Xn (as a subspace of O(n)) are embedded submanifolds of O(n), and O(n)-homogeneous spaces, and in fact figure out which familiar homogeneous spaces they are.

I exhibited the path components in what I thought was an awfully nice way...And as soon as I saw them, I had a sudden flash of intuition revealing exactly what these manifolds had to be. It just seemed right, even though there didn't seem to be any geometric or topological reason for it...But I could see how I might build a mapping between them. When I worked through the details, it turned out I was right. Not only did I have intuition, I had correct intuition! That is just about the coolest thing ever.

I'm not going to tell you what they turned out to be. The problem's not due until Monday, and I don't want to give anything away if, by some bizarre twist of Fate or Chance someone else in my Manifolds class should read this before then. I do not want to spoil anyone's fun. For it was fun! Yes, it was fun when I finished writing it down...Heady, even.

There were a lot of details to wade through, it's true, the Equivariant Rank Theorem spraying left and right, remembering that all symmetric matrices are orthogonally diagonalisable, exhibiting the path components as different level sets for the trace map, a few commutative diagrams...

But the payoff was pretty.

Also, I think the set of all Borel subgroups of a complex semisimple Lie group, since it carries a transitive action of the group by conjugation, and the isotropy group of any Borel is the Borel itself (since it's its own normaliser), should have the structure of a smooth manifold, via identifying it with the coset space of any handy Borel.

Posted by aloysius at 12:02 AM |
February 27, 2004
Only in England

Would you like to see a twee Eighties children's television programme try to squeeze as much sexual innuendo into a little clip as possible?

Sure you would!

Muppets peeling bananas chanting 'One skin, two skin, three skin, four skin...'

Playing with friends' balls.

That sort of thing.

According to this FAQ, which may or may not be remotely accurate:

We're often asked about the so called rude Rainbow, clips of which have been shown on the Channel Four programmes, TV Unzipped and TV Offal. Although often introduced as the unaired pilot, this episode was actually specially made by the team at Thames Television. Geoffrey Hayes told us, "The VT department of each ITV company, every Christmas had a competition to enter all the outtakes from their particular companies programme out put, and see which ones were the funniest. But ours wasn’t an outtake, we specially did it. It was specially scripted and we did it and I never saw it! We did it and Thames won it, but what they actually won, I don’t know. But I never saw the video. I can’t remember much about it except for Zippy with a banana." The script was written by the voice of Zippy and George; Roy Skelton.

This would be the same Roy Skelton who did a lot of Dalek voices. Which just goes to show, doesn't it?

Posted by aloysius at 10:25 AM |
February 22, 2004
The Pigs

If you are ever walking through a shopping mall parking lot some night, and you come across a shopping cart sitting abandoned all by itself, do not ride in it going 'whee!' while a friend pushes you along towards the bus stop nearby. Apparently, it is a crime. If a police officer should spot you, he will patronise you, ask you if you know how much a shopping cart costs (and then make a figure up), ask you if you know who will wind up paying to replace it (the customers, that's who, the public; only not the cop himself, because he doesn't shop at Target [what, is he too good for Target?]), threaten to charge you with a felony for taking it, then back down and say there's a good chance nothing will come of this but he hopes you won't forget it, as if he's taught you an important Moral Lesson this night that'll make you better citizens, like everyone's living in Magical After-School Storybook Land and now you'll live happily ever after. Then you'll spend the end of your evening cross and pissy and wishing you'd done something genuinely criminal because it sounds bloody stupid telling friends that you were pulled over by the police while riding in a shopping cart. If one is going to be accosted by the police, it might as well be for something good. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

The police officer conformed excellently to the stereotypes: he was indeed bald and tubby. I'll bet nobody loves him.

Posted by aloysius at 11:09 PM |
Something Wonderful

Have you seen this yet? Via the iridescent Stet,

Gay Penguin for President.

Incapable of speech, incapable of reasoning, incapable of abstract planning, a Gay Penguin would objectively make a better president that George W Bush. He would also be cute and adorable and non-threatening, and children would love him. He would be the media's darling. And he'd be gay. Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. And a penguin. What more do you want?

The Gay Penguin would also be a more credible anti-corporatist candidate than Ralph Nader, whom I hereby challenge to single combat with crusty baguettes, the loser to abandon all current and future campaigns for the presidency.

Taste my buttered fury, Ralph.

(I suppose it's only right and proper that I reveal that, in 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader. The last few years, however, have convinced me that there is indeed a real and significant difference between the two American parties. And while the Democrats certainly could be more different, at this point I'm willing to take whatever I can get, purely in the interests of self-preservation.)

Posted by aloysius at 03:25 PM |

According to my website access activity statistics thingy stuff, at some point this month I was linked to by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I think the Internet may be fucking with me. Tricksy Internet...

Posted by aloysius at 01:05 PM |
February 19, 2004
More Penguins

Abuse some penguins.

But it's okay; they're only Flash.

Posted by aloysius at 08:05 PM |

Here's something fun for the kiddies, from the frozen corn-steppes of my native Iowa:

AMES, Iowa -- A student bondage club at Iowa State University has been charged with violating university rules after a flogging demonstration in December.

The school's Office of Judicial Affairs charged the group Cuffs with assault in violation of the Student Conduct Code and Iowa law.

A letter outlining the charges was given to the group's president, Duane Long Jr. on Monday during a meeting with Bethany Schuttinga, the director of ISU judicial affairs.

"Cuffs leadership planned and implemented a demonstration at a scheduled Cuffs meeting involving the striking of another person(s) with a whip, belt, flogger, paddle, cane and hand with the intention of causing pain to that person," Schuttinga said.

She said the flogging amounted to an assault, which violates the university's conduct policy and Iowa law.

She said the violations were minor and will be dealt with in an administrative hearing. No criminal charges will be filed.

Cuffs, which was formed in 2000, is for students interested in bondage, domination, sadism and masochism.

What do Iowans think? They just want to be spanked. All of them. Lord knows there's little else to do in Iowa.

There have been racial rights, women's rights and most recently, gay rights movements in the United States. But what about bondage, discipline, domination and sadomasochism rights?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by aloysius at 07:49 PM |
Local Degree

It's been a good long while since we've had a maths post here, and I think we're long overdue. You've probably been tossing and turning for hours upon hours in the dead of night, fisted by an overpowering urge to feast upon fatty scraps of technical detail rent from the flesh of my budding mathematical career. And I, dear reader, shall indulge you.

I've been working through Allen Hatcher's Algebraic Topology with some other grads here and one of our faculty.

(Incidentally, my roommate may possibly have just related the complex K-theory of a space to its first cohomology with coefficients in the infinite unitary group U. Which would be crazy. I'm excited.)

Flip to Chapter 2, on homology. Now read it. Come back when you're finished.

All done? Swell.

By now you surely understand why it's important that we can compute degrees of maps between spheres: we need it to do cellular homology. And by now you surely understand what the degree of a map f from the n-sphere to itself is: the nth homology group of the n-sphere is just the group Z of integers, and f induces a homomorphism from Z to itself, which must be multiplication by some integer, which we dub the degree of f. Unfortunately, computing the degree of a map directly is usually horribly difficult, at least for me. Hatcher offers a sort of short-cut, defining local degrees and proving that we can obtain the degree of a map, under suitable hypotheses, as the sum of some local degrees. Doubly unfortunately, local degrees as he defines them aren't much easier to compute than full-fledged degrees. Which is sad. But, mirabile dictu, there is another way one could define local degree, which is quite tractable!

Suppose f is a smooth map of the n-sphere to itself. Suppose y is a regular value of f: at every point in the (finite) inverse image, the pushforward (or Jacobian, or derivative, or [insert notation here]) of f has rank n, making it a linear isomorphism. Then at every point x in the inverse image, f is locally a diffeomorphism: we can choose some neighbourhood V of y, with f-1V a disjoint collection of neighbourhoods of the x's. Given such a neighbourhood U of an x, f induces a map from Hn(U,U-x) to Hn(V,V-y), both groups being Z; so this map is multiplication by some integer, the local degree of f at x. If f is a diffeomorphism on U, then this map is invertible, so the local degree must be +1 or -1. We can also consider the pushforward of f at x; it's a linear isomorphism of the tangent space at x to the tangent space at y, so we can easily check whether it preserves or reverses the orientations on these tangent spaces defined by the standard orientation of the sphere. I claim the local degree at x will be +1 precisely when the pushforward preserves orientations, and -1 when it reverses orientations. Note that this should be given simply by the sign of the determinant of the Jacobian in appropriate coordinate charts, which is immensely amenable to computation.

Why should this be true?

Let's sweep a lot of crap under the rug right now. Let's choose V and our charts so that the image of y is 0, and the image of V is a teeny tiny disk about 0. And let's also choose charts so that the image of x in its chart is likewise 0. Just for shits. So let's look at everything in these coordinates; if F is the coordinate representation of f, then F(0)=0, and for any z in the image of U, we can write F(z)=F(0)+DF(0)z+o(z)=DF(0)z+o(z) where DF(0) is the Jacobian of F at 0, and the 'little o' function dies off very rapidly near the origin.

Here's the kicker: the map DF(0)z+to(z) should be a homotopy between F and DF(0), at least on a small enough neighbourhood. So DF(0) and F must have the same local degrees at 0. Since DF(0) is just an invertible linear map, and GL(n,R) has exactly two path components, DF(0) should be homotopic either to the identity or to the diagonal matrix with all diagonal entries 1 except for the first, which will be -1. Depending on the sign of its determinant. The local degree of DF(0) is then the sign of its determinant, and so we obtain the local degree of F; assuming we've chosen our charts so as not to fuck anything up, we now have the local degree of f at x, too.

Wave your hands in the air! Wave them like you don't care!

So there. That is enough math-posting for today. Fill in the details at your leisure; correct any egregious mistakes in the above. Perhaps I will try to do this rigourously at some point in the near future. It depends on how distracted I get.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming. (You were looking at porn, weren't you?)

Posted by aloysius at 07:36 PM |
February 18, 2004
George Bush Hates

George Bush hates science.

Add this to the list, which currently includes gays, the poor, non-whites, women, puppies, the environment, Europe, Africa, Canada, in fact the entire world except for about twelve square kilometers of Texas, national security, health, education, freedom, tolerance, democracy, the arts, cricket, Jedi, whales, nipple piercings, music, dreams, joy, the future, your mother, your haircut, everything you treasure and hold dear, you, and the letter K.

This list is not exhaustive.

Posted by aloysius at 08:21 PM |
Chris Morris Does Things

Chris Morris is planning something new for television, but no-one is allowed to know what.

Film at eleven.

This news is months and months old. If it were lettuce, it would have decomposed into a puddle of brown liquid by now, thus rendering it totally unfit for consumption on any form of sandwich known to human science.

Here are some transcripts from The Day Today, a previous television project of his which is A Bit Good.

Do you not know who Chris Morris is? Then lobsters will rend your flesh in the next life. He invented Christ's Fat Cock.

Posted by aloysius at 07:54 PM |
February 17, 2004
Live Nude Voters

CNN posts the Wisconsin primary's results as they come in. Only 2% of the precincts have reported so far, so the numbers up right now mean absolutely bugger-all. Even so, I will mention that John Edwards is currently some 310 votes, or 3% of the total thus far, ahead of John Kerry. Wait...Now it's just under 400 votes. Dean, of course, is hopelessly dead, much like one of Steller's sea cows.

Edwards is still ahead. The numbers are still meaningless. You have time to go and get a snack.

The New York Times also has results as they materialise. Their figures have Lyndon LaRouche bringing in a whopping 0.3% of the vote thus far. The BC Marijuana Party won 3.22% in the 2001 provincial elections. That's lots more. This is much greater than the combined Other vote, which included political entities like the Party of Citizens Who Have Decided To Think For Themselves And Be Their Own Politicians, which may in fact be somewhat silly.

CNN still has Edwards very narrowly in the lead, with 7% of the precincts reporting. The Times has only 2% reporting, and Edwards also leading. Here are some numbers from Yahoo! News too, which are slightly different but mostly the same. Aren't numbers pretty?

Here are the numbers from the Official HogBlog Correspondent, on the scene here in Seattle, Washington, eating a sandwich: 6, 9830, À0.

CNN has Edwards keeping his teeny tiny lead, with 12%, they claim, reporting.

Here are some emperor penguins. Aren't they cute?

The Liberal Party in Canada has been wounded at the polls by the ongoing sponsorship scandal thingy. What does Jean Chretien think of all this? 'I don't think any more.' Jack Layton said the NDP would be willing to prop the Liberals up if they slipped into a minority government in the next election; that'd be fun.

Oh, right. America. Kerry's taken an itty-bitty lead in Wisconsin now. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

It's a bit late, but here are some swell, swell Valentine's cards.

John Kerry and John Edwards: could their combined Johning prove as potent as that of John Flansburgh and John Linnell?

Joseph Lieberman is pulling in twice as many votes as Lyndon LaRouche. And he isn't even in the race. I did a Google search on Joementum, and wound up finding a weblog called Gay, Dead or Canadian. I haven't read any of it yet, but I'm pretty sure he's gay. I don't know about the rest.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Posted by aloysius at 07:00 PM |
February 16, 2004
Rotten to the Whore

Some of Paul Martin's comments on the Liberal sponsorship scandal that is all a-bubbling Up North--something on the order of $100 million (Canadian) meant (so I gather) for PR work to promote national unity (this was just after Quebec nearly voted for secession) misappropriated under Chretien and funneled to Liberal-friendly Quebec advertising firms, about which Paul Martin claims to have known nothing--seem just surreally bizarre to me, when I think about them...

Martin repeated his comment from yesterday that he would resign if the facts proved he had prior knowledge of the sponsorship scandal when he was finance minister.

'I didn't do it, I swear to God. But if I had done it, and you guys were to find out, then I'd resign. But I didn't. So I won't. But I would if I did. Honest. You should believe me when I say that. Even though, if I had done it, most of what I've just said would have been a lie. Except for that last part, I swear. But I'm not lying. So there. PS QUEBEC RULZ!'

UPDATE: Unrelated but still Canadian, Conrad Black has decided to sue Hollinger International for defamation, for suing him for cooking the books and felching away company money.

"So you think just because you've lighted me on fire I'm going to stop my quest to continue my quest to stop you lighting me on fire, do you?"

Posted by aloysius at 06:34 PM |
February 15, 2004

It's not really Freud/Jung slash, but it's good enough for government work.

Posted by aloysius at 10:32 PM |
February 12, 2004

Next time you're feeling suggestible and crave vaguely disturbing vocal distortion--or maybe it's not a voice at all, but something that sounds too much like one--listen to m-ziq's song 'Wannabe' off of the Lunatic Harness album. There are a few catchy tunes on that one. Well, as catchy as electronica can ever be said to be.

Or check out the Postal Service; they're cheerful music, all beeps and bongs and so forth, and sometimes a faint orchestral background.

Posted by aloysius at 10:56 PM |
February 11, 2004

Bush and the Republicans hate gays. Now tell me something I didn't know.

On Saturday there's going to be a rally here in Seattle against any constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It'll be at noon at Westlake Park, at 4th and Pine. Bring your moral outrage. There may indeed be similar events in your metropolitan area, too. You can check this website if you feel so inclined. Or start your own. Bring some sandwiches and some pretzels and you can have a picnic afterwards. Everyone loves a picnic.

Invite Andrew Sullivan. I'm sure he'd appreciate it. He must be lonely now that his good pal George Bush has turned on him like the rabid mutt everyone else always knew he was.

Posted by aloysius at 11:44 AM |
February 09, 2004
More Gay Kerry

I would be sort of tempted to say 'Fuck you' to John Kerry if he and I were ever likely to speak.

But I'm grumpy like that.

As I've said, I really don't think it's going to help Kerry win the hick vote to keep harping on about how he believes in civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples. It makes him look still too liberal for the old-fashioned parts of America, and it undercuts his progressive credibility; it's a stand that, however honest, makes him look weaker and more waffly. It looks like a stand taken for political advantage, even if it isn't. And it's going to keep pissing off people like me. The hicks aren't going to vote for him. We gay types are. Kerry should realise which side his bread's buttered on already. I don't care what he, personally, himself, deep down, thinks or feels or believes. But I care very strongly about the message he publicly sends. I care that, with his position, he's painting unions for gay couples as something different than 'real' marriage.

I'll vote for him, don't get me wrong...But I don't have to like it. He's not getting a damned Christmas card, that's for sure.

Posted by aloysius at 10:28 PM |
Clear Grit

Here's a bit of fun on the roots of Canadian (and British) political parties' nicknames. Knock yourself out.

Posted by aloysius at 12:17 AM |
February 07, 2004
Kerry and Gay Marriage

Gay marriage.

As I mentioned in my caucus post, someone in my precinct brought up the fact that John Kerry has publicly opposed gay marriage itself, while supporting civil unions with all the legal bells and whistles. Here's a statement saying exactly that on Kerry's campaign site. Although this is hardly unique to Kerry. At least according to The Advocate, all of the non-flake candidates have stopped short of supporting anything with the name 'marriage' for same-sex couples, though they all seem to back civil unions with more or less all the same legal benefits. (Although Edwards's support seems to be weakest and most limited; here's some information.)

Now, this is, compared to what we have now, still really pro-gay, and so it feels almost boorish and ungrateful of me to complain about this stance--yet, upon reflection, I feel complaint is still warranted.

I'm sure a certain amount of political calculation goes into this; candidates feel civil unions would be easier to sell to a public that includes lots of pro-wrestling fans and drooling vegetables. And they are probably right in this. To a degree. A small degree. But I don't think they're buying themselves enough of a political advantage to balance out the passive discrimination they're still pushing. Read this snippet from TAPPED. The homophobes will vote against a candidate who supports civil unions with as much venom as they'll vote against a candidate who supports gay marriage. According to this, Howard Dean at times had to wear a bulletproof vest during his 2000 gubernatorial campaign, after the civil unions issue came up. And that wasn't in Mississippi. In my opinion, no matter how many times John Kerry says he's against gay marriage, his support for gay rights and civil unions will hurt him just as much. How will conservatives spin it? They'll claim Kerry's dishonest, trying to sugar-coat his real Gay Agenda so he can force-feed it to an unsuspecting, God-fearing American public. They'll paint him as a puppet of the Pink Mafia. Or something bizarrely stupid like that. No change in terminology will stop that.*

And anything short of full equality of marriage rights, in name as well as in legal fact, is at least passively discriminatory, and will only promote the idea that gays and lesbians can be ghettoised and walled off in their own little social sectors safely isolated from 'decent folk' like Jerry Falwell. Civil unions without marriage will only reinforce the idea of homosexuals as part of the Other, as a strange, aberrant strain separate from the rest of humanity. We are not separate. And until that is acknowledged, we will not be equal.

*Addendum: The New York Times has an article up about anti-gay-marriage agitators. I quote:

"I don't care if you call it civil unions," Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said last week. "I don't care if you call it domestic partnership, I don't care if you call it cantaloupe soup, if you are legally spouses at the end of the day, I am not willing to do that."

You cannot buy these people off with tepid language: they believe God Almighty has given them special dispensation to be bigoted assholes, praise the Lord. So the Democrats might as well take the bull by the horns already and treat this like the human rights issue that it is, instead of trying to soft-shoe around it.

Posted by aloysius at 02:15 PM |
Washington Caucuses

It's caucus day for Washington state! Your Humble Narrator did indeed rouse himself from thick, rich, creamy slumber to go do his small part for the democratic, Democratic process. (Pausing only to buy tickets to David Bowie's April show at the Key Arena when they went on sale at 10am; I missed him at the Paramount in January, and I'll be damned if I'll be shut out again.) I made it to Seattle Central Community College on Broadway just in the nick of time to sign in; and the rest was history. Thirty-seven people, myself included, turned up from my precinct; the organisers estimated there were 500 to 600 people total in this one large hall, one of two in the building housing precincts from the 43rd legislative district. It was, apparently, quite a turnout. The organisers, alas, had not planned for it very well. The room was packed, difficult even to move through, let alone converse in. Almost all of the precincts were jammed inside in little knots, their internal conversations and debates almost drowned out by the background noise. I couldn't hear a lot of what people were saying, and I was not alone in this. It was hot and uncomfortable; discussion was very limited and lasted no more than 15 minutes; the chaotic and oppressive atmosphere discouraged people (like me) from actually saying anything, and as a result the discussion consisted almost entirely of prepared sound bytes from the hardcore campaign people.

This was my first caucus, and I have to admit that I didn't like it at all. In a perfect world, I would never have to go through this again. Maybe they're just run better in Iowa.

How did we do, you ask? As I said, 37 people turned up from my precinct. The initial breakdown was 18 for Dean, 8 for Kerry, 4 for Kucinich, 3 for Clark, 3 undecideds, and 1 Edwards, so only Dean and Kerry made the 15% cut and moved on to our fabulous Bonus Round. Then came the speaking. Kerry's speaker was hostile and abrasive, which was apparently not an isolated incident today. In my precinct, he was basically slinging mud; he claimed Dean didn't have the temperament to be president and pointed to his post-Iowa scream speech, which pissed me way the heck off because, as I've mentioned before, that was entirely an artifact of dishonest media coverage, as Diane 'Soulless Clockwork Whore' Sawyer herself has admitted. I think this guy actually turned people off to Kerry. Oh well. Kerry never had much of a chance in my precinct; the turnout was almost all homos and aging professionals, with homos holding a majority. And a Dean campaigner had very cleverly come equipped with a newspaper article about the recent Massachusetts ruling that only same-sex marriage, and not mere civil unions, would be acceptable. Kerry, as you are no doubt aware, supports civil unions but officially opposed gay marriage. That, as you might imagine, did not go over so well with the gays. When the second vote was held, Dean had 26, Kerry just 10, and one Clark guy had left before he could change his vote and so didn't count. Of our five delegates, Dean took four, and Kerry just one. It came down, modulo a few other people, to a straight split between bohemians and the bourgeois.

The Deaniac with the newspaper admitted what we all know, that Dean will not be the nominee. We acknowledged that. But the longer he stays in the race, and the longer until a nominee is crowned, the longer debate can continue and the longer the race can suck in media attention. Which is why I didn't just give up and stay home, as I'd seriously considered doing.

There are a number of things about the caucus process that bother me. Most of them boil down to precincts.

  • Consider mine. Thirty-seven people turned up; but regardless of that, based solely on its population the precinct had five delegates to allocate. If I'd been the only person to show up, I could've done any darn thing I wanted with them. The delegates a precinct assigns do not necessarily reflect the desires of the citizenry; I think we'd get better and more representative turnouts with a primary election instead, which is painless, more flexible, and requires much less commitment.

  • This business of delegates, like the electoral college federally, is a buffer between voters and their votes, and the actual outcome of the process. I don't like that. The precinct is too small an entity to warrant that kind of vote quantisation. Dean wound up with something like 72% of my precinct's final vote, and Kerry about 28%; but because you can't give someone three-fifths of a delegate, the actual outcome was skewed towards Dean in a way that, while it may suit my personal political ends, was not quite representative of the voting. That just isn't fair. If you must amalgamate voters, it shouldn't be done on any lower level than legislative districts; precinct turnouts are just too small. They make the rounding errors unreasonably large.

  • Why bother with delegates, anyhow? What are they for? They go on to the county and district and whatever caucuses in May; but where is the point of those later caucuses? We, the People, have already voted, and won't get to vote again; if we can't change our minds, our delegates sure as heck shouldn't be allowed to, and if that's the case, why have delegates at all? There should be no debate and no jiggery-pokery after the Little People have voted. Maybe delegates aren't allowed to change their minds; I don't know. Maybe this isn't an issue. It seems like a lot of extra, needless fuss, though, and these May caucuses seem like needless bureaucratic flab.

It seems as if it'd be fairer and more efficient--and less hassle--to give up the caucus thing altogether, and switch to a Single Transferable Vote primary system instead. Maybe I'm just on crack, who knows...

At least it's all over now. The results should be out in a few hours.

Posted by aloysius at 01:35 PM |
February 03, 2004
What TAs Want

Sometimes, when a student asks me a question on something they really, really, really ought to know if they're taking and expecting to pass the class that they are, what I really want to say to them is 'I will burn your soul with my fury.'

But I don't.

Posted by aloysius at 02:32 PM |
February 02, 2004
Making Your Funny Voice Work For You

Do you hate confrontation? Do you hate door-to-door salesmen? Do you have a somewhat peculiar way of speaking that leads people to ask 'Where are you from, anyhow?'

Then you have what it takes to pretend to be a Czech!

Here's the procedure...

You're puttering around the house, perhaps washing dishes while preparing pasta. Suddenly there is a knock at your door. Why, who could this be? Someone fun? Someone exciting? You hold your breath and open this portal into adventure...It is a large magazine salesman from Mississippi, attempting to earn points towards some kind of...thing...of some kind by selling magazine subscriptions and talking about good PR skills. He asks you your name, where you're from. What do you do?

Pretend you're a Czech!

The beauty of this is that very few door-to-door salesmen will have any idea what a Czech accent actually sounds like. So long as you sound somehow 'off', you can most likely get away with it. Smile a lot, look confused, shake your head and go back inside. It's much easier to weasel out of a sales pitch if the salesperson thinks you're from Somewhere Else. Your endearingly foreign confusion will throw them off their guard, and they will find it much harder to justify, even to themselves, an attempt to sell you English-language periodicals.

Or I suppose you could look through the peephole and avoid opening the door.

But it is fun to lie to salespeople.

Posted by aloysius at 07:16 PM |