WoB Talk

November 15, 2010

November 15 – 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 9:57 am

I was really, really tired when I originally posted this message, and I didn’t even know what I was writing.  Sorry about that.  Er…hello.

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71 Comments »

  1. Apart from wondering where else would you post new comic (some secret site away from prying eyes?), that link is wrong. You are missing the colon (:) after http, so it should be:
    http://www.westofbathurst.com

    Since the original one would lead you to the wiki site for Hypertext Transfer Protocol (for me at least) and it does not contain any sort of comic that I can see (I got curious).

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 15, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  2. Since the Phorum is still down, I’ll try here:

    Anyone up for a meetup in Sydney next week? Email me at “my name” at yellowhead.nl.

    Cheers,

    Stefan.

    P.S. Mmmm, coffee!

    Comment by Stefan — November 15, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  3. An article written by someone who works for one of these ‘custom essays’ companies:

    http://chronicle.com/article/article-content/125329/

    At least it’s well written…

    Comment by emily — November 15, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  4. Really disturbing thing, my first thought was: “You know, that sounds like a fun job.”
    Sort of like eternal grad student, but for decent pay and a broad variation in topics. (Although if the amount of writing he is quoting is anywhere near realistic, the earnings are not that fabulous.)

    Comment by mivadar — November 15, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  5. It may be well-written, but it’s not particularly well-argued. To wit: “The fact that I have helped thousands of students falsify their degrees isn’t my fault. It’s YOUR fault. Why on earth didn’t you catch them? Never mind that I have already mentioned how difficult it is to prove that students have bought essays. Oh, and this mess can really all be blamed on the fact that my English professors wouldn’t give me a course credit for a novel I had written. I’m a real writer, you know!”

    I want to punch him in the nose.

    Comment by Kari — November 15, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  6. I am perfectly happy to join the punching.
    And no, it’s not well argued – it’s basically pointing out the problem (quite self-righteously at that), and not much else.

    By the way, an in my opinion much better account of the same was written in Harper’s some 15 years ago. “This pen for hire: on grinding out papers for college students” (link to excerpt: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-16916045.html , I have the full text somewhere).

    One thing that amazes me with some of the crap I see is how the students made it to university. I don’t mean the admissions process, I mean actually passing secondary education and not been made to repeat years/classes ad inf. or just been chucked out.
    Being able to write a coherent sentence or do basic algebra are *not* university level accomplishments.
    Anyway … I think we had a few similar long discussions on the phorum already.

    Comment by mivadar — November 15, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

  7. Hello, what a great start to the day, I feel much better now that I have done my duty by pointing out your flaw(s) in your weakest hour. They do say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all.

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 16, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  8. Actually, I am not sure that I blame the ‘ghost’ writers at all. To me, the blame rests firmly with the cheating students. The writer himself is not breaking any laws or any rules that *he has agreed to follow*. He provides a legal service for hire. When he writes an essey for pay, the copyright resides with the paying customer and that customer can do whatever they want with it. Would I do it myself? No. But I am part of the system. He is not. I would not put myself through school by working as a call girl, either, but I will not tell some who does that it is moraly wrong, even if most of her customers are cheating on their wifes.

    And he does make a good point that if a professor regularly receives e-mails from a student lacking basic sentence structure, then maybe some red flags should be raised when the same student hands in a well-written paper. Also, given what he describes as his writing process, the end point cannot possibly be in any way original or useful. Any university which grants a Masters degree based on a thesis in which ‘four word sentences are written in twenty words’ and ‘stuff is extrapolated from abstracts of papers’ or whatever it is that he does to get to the right page limit, has a problem which I might argue is worse that that of students cheating.

    The article made me chuckle, though… does that mean I am part of the problem now?

    Comment by emily — November 16, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  9. Emily: the issue I have with this guy is that he blames professors for not “catching” students. The thing about the e-mails is perfectly true. However:

    1) Students habitually relax their writing standards when they are sending e-mails. A student may legitimately argue that her e-mails are informal and therefore not representative of her formal writing skills.
    2) Even if I notice a discrepancy–which I frequently do–I’m not necessarily going to be able to get a conviction. If there is no concrete evidence that the student has stolen his paper, and he steadfastly denies doing so, how can I possibly get the Senate to convict him of plagiarism?
    3) Plagiarised papers are not necessarily well written. One of the “tells” of a bought paper is that a student who makes ESL-type errors on an in-class paper has suddenly switched to errors typical of native speakers. Again, however, it is very difficult to convict such a student if one can find no concrete evidence of plagiarism. The university at which I currently work does allow profs to prosecute students on circumstantial evidence (radical shift in writing style, general lack of knowledge of the subject, etc.), but I suspect that if any students so convicted appealed the charge, they would win. My old university did NOT allow convictions on circumstantial evidence.
    4) Therefore, an essay farmer blaming professors for not catching cheating students is sort of like a bank robber blaming clerks for not anticipating his every move. I would LIKE to have psychic powers, but oddly enough, I actually don’t.

    Comment by Kari — November 16, 2010 @ 2:34 am

  10. I agree that blaming the professors is the wrong way to look at it. At the bottom of it, academia is based on an honor code. The system is not designed to catch cheaters. Though we probably could do better with not that much effort. I prefer techniques which cause the cheater to fail without having to prosecute them, because prosecuting students takes too much time. In an ideal system, students would not cheat because cheating would not help them pass.

    It’s not that hard to catch out the students who truly cannot write. You could for example have an in-class essay and make passing it the condition of passing the course (in sciences, it is pretty standard to make passing the lab component, which might be only worth 10% of the total grade, a condition on passing the whole course). The truly hard thing is catching those students who could produce passing work, but could not be bothered. Some sort of oral exam on the paper they have just handed in might do it, but it’s horribly time-consuming to the prof/grader. Again, I am not advocating prosecution, just failing them.

    Actually, oral exams are great all around, almost impossible to cheat on. A student whose master’s thesis is pointless and who on top of it does not appear to be familiar with the details should fail the viva. And if they don’t (or if there is no viva or similar), it is the University’s failure to uphold standards.

    Comment by emily — November 16, 2010 @ 4:17 am

  11. emily seems on to something: is it impossible for classes like yours to have a significant weight on the final exam? For my maths class I assigned something like 10% of the credit to homework problems, but the remaining credit was for the midterm and final. Ghost writers don’t write exams for you.

    Comment by Stefan — November 16, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  12. “. You could for example have an in-class essay and make passing it the condition of passing the course (in sciences, it is pretty standard to make passing the lab component, which might be only worth 10% of the total grade, a condition on passing the whole course). ”

    I do this all the time.
    Not just in courses, but also with serious mistakes in individual assignments (lab reports mostly that I come in contact with).

    If there is a mistake in it that is so fundamental that I can’t see anyone studying for a science degree making it, screw the rest of the assignment, that report is a fail. In the real meaning of “fail”, that is “failed to meet minimum acceptable standards of knowledge”.

    (No, my friend, if You tell me that the pH of a solution decreased because “the pH evaporated”, I don’t care what the rest of the lab report is about.)

    Comment by mivadar — November 16, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  13. On a more relevant note – Where is Casey?

    Comment by mivadar — November 16, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  14. Even more relevant than that: what is coffee house?

    Comment by Stefan — November 16, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  15. Wow…everybody left comments while I was asleep.

    1) Yes, I generally set a midterm and a final worth a hefty portion of the mark. However, one of my courses is online, which means that students could easily be paying people to take the course for them. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about this.

    2) Casey? Who’s that?

    3) Coffee House has been covered before, though admittedly not for a long time. Here’s a link to the first strip of the previous Coffee House series: http://www.masseycollege.ca/alumni/westofbathurst/westofbathurst061106.html

    Comment by Kari — November 16, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  16. Aaarrrrrgh – You have probably buried the Mulligan for the next half a year.

    You know, there is a reason I always read entire books in one go and never chapters, putting sleeping, eating and working aside …
    (no, I don’t like to peak at the end of detective novels – but I do read the whole novel to the end rather than staying hanging in there :”> )

    Comment by mivadar — November 16, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  17. Maybe we should start a campaign to bring back and wrap up the Casey mystery quickly. 😛

    Comment by nuttycat — November 16, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  18. You guys are so very, VERY impatient. You do realise that the story is progressing at a pace of twelve panels a week, right?

    I’ll bet that if I DID suddenly wrap up the Casey mystery in two or three quick strips next week, I would get people complaining that it had all happened too quickly and thus constituted a cop-out.

    I would refer you back to the strip published on April 1st, 2010.

    Comment by Kari — November 16, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  19. I know, I loved that strip :”>.

    Comment by mivadar — November 16, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  20. OK, just to clarify, before SR comes in the picture – *comic* strip.

    Comment by mivadar — November 16, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  21. I vote to keep the mistery going. And each time you answer one mystery, three more should pop up.

    Yes, I enjoy being frustrated by fiction. It’s fun!

    On the subject of someone else taking the exam for a student in an on-line course: huge problem. On line education will not be able to really take of until someone fixes this one. And it’s really, really hard to fix.

    Comment by emily — November 16, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

  22. It’s not just the exam. As Mr. Plagiarism points out, he is sometimes paid to take the WHOLE COURSE, even responding to weekly discussion questions. There is absolutely no way to monitor this sort of thing. I can certainly compare my students’ discussion responses to their essays (and believe me, I do), but I can’t magically detect people who have handed off their passwords to surrogate students. Hell…I wouldn’t even be able to tell if a student’s MUM was taking the course for her.

    I am optimistic enough to hope that I have no students who are buying the credit, but I know perfectly well that I’ve got plagiarists, as I’ve caught several.

    Comment by Kari — November 16, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  23. I have been told that the going rate for someone to take the entire Physics 12 (highchool) online course for you and guarantee a grade above 90% is $500.

    Comment by emily — November 16, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  24. Isn’t it great that it is possible for rich kids to buy their degrees?

    Comment by Kari — November 16, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

  25. *rant ahead*
    Dear temporary roommate- what part of not airing your dirty laundry in public did you not learn over all these years?
    Maybe its just me, but yelling at your SO over the phone while sitting in the dining area for everyone else to hear – is not doing you a favor, rather it makes you looks like a drama major. You have a cellphone, its not cold outside, its not late and a 5000 acre well-lit university campus is 2 minute walk. Ever thought of going on a walk while yelling on the phone so that the other people in the apt can have some peace and silence when they return home?
    *end rant*

    Comment by nuttycat — November 17, 2010 @ 2:28 am

  26. Apologies for the many weird grammatical mistakes in the previous post er.. rant. I was so bugged – that I left the apt and came back to work for a bit of peace and quiet… Am I glad this person is moving out at the end of the week…

    Comment by nuttycat — November 17, 2010 @ 3:19 am

  27. I agree with mivadar (Yes I also like strip as well, the more saucy the better), I can’t stand all these keeping reader on the edge for next week stuff which is why I think it’s good that WoB has kept Casey locked up for now (so to speak). If it was anything like Erfworld or The Order of the Stick with its continuous storyline I would lose interest quite quick, it was fun while reading the archive though.

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 17, 2010 @ 5:23 am

  28. Don’t mention … -The Archive-!
    I actually have work to do today :”>.

    Comment by mivadar — November 17, 2010 @ 7:19 am

  29. Kari, I believe you meant to link to this one: http://www.masseycollege.ca/alumni/westofbathurst/westofbathurst061106.html
    Either way, things are much clearer now. I guess it’s silly to ask why such an event is called “coffee house”?

    Comment by Stefan — November 17, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  30. Phellow phorummers, I need your help! I’ve received the formal offer from my potential transfer institution, and in the end I have a hard time coming to a decision. At this point, the alternatives are: 1) accept the offer, or 2) take time off to work (I’m 23, just finished my masters) and perhaps return to research in 2-3 years if I decide it’s what I like best.

    Here’s my pro/cons list for accepting the offer:

    Pros:
    – Great research environment, good atmosphere, really liked it during the visit – everybody seems very nice and answers emails within 30 minutes – including rock-stars
    – Top 10 department for my field, great placement record in the past few years
    – Great funding package, job security
    – I like research (I think), and I’m not sure whether I’d find another job that I enjoy
    – I might never get such an opportunity again
    – I may not be in such a good situation to do a PhD later on (e.g. financial/family commitments), it may be harder to get into programs
    – “The grass is always greener” syndrome

    Cons:
    – I feel I’ve lost my drive/enthusiasm for my topic
    – I’m very bad at time management, stress management, and maintaining self-esteem – I almost burnt out during master’s thesis, and I’m worried that it will happen again
    – I’m curious about the world out there (I have no work experience besides a few short internships, aka no point of comparison) and right now I have a good/marketable degree plus complete freedom
    – I don’t really like the city/country
    – I’m not really sure about what I want to do when I’m grown up / need to get my *beep* together (currently changing career plans every 2 weeks or so)
    – Fear of dropping out later on and having little marketable experience
    – Commitment phobia – 5 years is a long time, especially when you’re 23

    In those conditions, would you say that taking time off is a reasonable thing to do, or I am refusing a golden opportunity that may never present itself again? Friends/family tell me to “give it a try”, but it doesn’t sound like a good idea. I definitely don’t want to burn any bridges…

    Comment by roeslein — November 17, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  31. Stefan: oops. I have no idea how that happened. Fixed.

    Re. Coffee House: Wikipedia will help you there. The Massey version does stand as a bit of a bastardisation of the concept, as the Massey Coffee House doesn’t actually raise awareness of anything. Fun fact: we call the spring version “Tea Hut.”

    Roeslein: No matter how much advice we load on you, you’re going to have to make the final decision yourself. You need to figure out what you want (what you really, really want). I’ll have to stand out on this one, as I’m somewhat prejudiced against academia and have a hard time being objective. However, good luck.

    Comment by wobtalk — November 17, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  32. I’m back from the printing shop, with the copies of my thesis.
    I feel strangely empty. In fact, I fight the urge to rush to the bathroom to cry.

    Comment by winding — November 17, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

  33. I’m personally inclined to suggest that you accept the offer, although I’m probably biased in the direction of taking any job offer you get; my financial situation isn’t remotely pretty at this point. If you’re confident you can get another job, then it becomes (to me) much harder. 5 years is, in fact, a long time, and I very much understand the fear of commitment. On the other hand, part of me is thinking “Well, if that’s a decent job and you’re not sure what you want to do anyway…” Good luck figuring it out.

    Re: plagiarism. One of my personal theories is that the situation might be improved if lower level schooling were less of a scheduled, automatic system. Partially because that way we can have smarter students move ahead faster. I spent a fair amount of my time in school bored, and I’m very confident that I’m not the only one. And, more to the current point, students who need help in particular area wouldn’t get moved on to the next until they had actually figured out how to do things in the level they’re already at. Make the system based on performance, rather than age and time. Hopefully get the people who need major help to write papers up to a decent level of ability. I don’t have any suggestions for dealing with lazy, rich students.

    Comment by erwaro — November 17, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  34. Awfully difficult, roeslein. So let me tell you an anecdote instead. A few years ago I attended a bachelor-project presentation. This girl did a solid bit of work, including some genuine research, and was on the whole pretty bright. In the Netherlands it is the norm to leave university only when you’ve completed a master degree (the bachelor degree didn’t exist when I started!), so I was shocked to learn that this student planned to take the bachelor’s degree and start working!

    However, from her point of view it may have been the right choice: if she wasn’t enjoying the university life, then why not go and do something else? She already had a job lined up. And if she changes her mind later on, it’d make her more marketable, at least for the applied math departments!

    Comment by Stefan — November 17, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  35. Talking about cheating and plagiarism, remember that magazine a week or so back that reprinted someone’s work and then claimed its fair use? Apparently, they are now shutting down.

    http://consumerist.com/2010/11/magazine-that-stole-writers-story-likely-shutting-down-blames-author.html

    In her closing statement, the editor is blaming the writer for the demise of the publication.

    Comment by nuttycat — November 18, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  36. Speaking of copy-paste … I’m looking through the final PhD thesis draft of a guy who is about the graduate over here … about a third of it is verbatim copied from my PhD thesis :-p.
    (Not in a single block, in 5-ish page segments. Basically the complete intro, most of the methods, even some of the results are recycled – it’s all very eco-friendly.)

    Vacillating between “yay, someone read my thesis” and “you’re not serious”.

    I don’t think it’s malicious cheating, he knows full well that I’d be asked to look through and correct the draft. => I can’t imagine he thinks it won’t be noticed.

    Don’t really know what to do, in a sort of bemused way.
    I’ll talk to him I guess.

    Comment by miv — November 18, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  37. Miv: just to be clear: is he quoting you, or is he just replicating your thesis without acknowledgement? The latter would be called “plagiarism.” It is entirely possible that he thinks it won’t be noticed. I’ve had students blatantly lift passages from my course modules, call them “discussion responses,” and expect me to mark the damn things. It sounds to me as if this guy is a cheating cheater, but yeah, talk to him.

    Comment by Kari — November 18, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  38. After wedding planners, Facebook is now giving me fertility.com ads. I mean, hello, I’m 23 and single and you, FB, know that! *facepalm*

    Comment by Roeslein — November 18, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  39. Not quoting … well, not in the sense that there would be a single reference to the original, which tends to be common practice with quotations. (And 5-page quotations are at least stylistically questionable :”> .)

    Anyway, will talk, will see.

    ( :-p The previous was not a very botched attempt at anonymity – the browser ate my name :-(. I keep getting these divine signs that my existence is meaningless.)

    Comment by mivadar — November 18, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  40. Yes, I was wondering why you had suddenly become “miv.”

    You are clearly an optimist. This sounds very like cut-and-dried plagiarism to me.

    Comment by Kari — November 18, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  41. I had an idea with respect to the comic – perhaps you should link the ‘Comment’ button to the specific blog post that corresponds to the fortnight in which that comic appeared.
    That way someone click on it would see the posts that are related to that comic week- rather than being landed on the blog front page.

    Pros of this approach : If we go back through the weeks and want to see the related comments, that would make it easier.
    Con: If you ever change your comment/blog host, you are going to end up with a bunch of broken links.

    Just my $0.02 width.

    Comment by nuttycat — November 19, 2010 @ 2:08 am

  42. Another con: going back and changing all the links would take me DAYS. However, if I ever have free time again, perhaps I’ll do that.

    Comment by Kari — November 19, 2010 @ 2:10 am

  43. Good luck with the decision Roselien – 5 years is a long time in some ways, but in reality it’s not really all that long on the grand scheme of things. I don’t know what the answer is but I have problem with the fact that a few of your “pros” are essentially – things might change and I can’t go back. Those “mights” apply just as much as a con – if you take this then there could possibly be a golden opportunity elsewhere that you are going to miss. To me these aren’t things you should really concern yourself.

    Still don’t know whether that makes the cons or pros the stronger list – but I think it important to look at what you want, not what might happen maybe.

    As for meetups – anyone in Brisbane (or surrounds) this Christmas? Am there for just under a month if anyone is.

    Comment by Mer — November 19, 2010 @ 2:39 am

  44. Re Comic link: Another con would be, we are suppose to be talking about the comic in these post now?

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 19, 2010 @ 4:25 am

  45. We talk about whatever we talk about, because we are a phree phorum! Power to the people!

    Comment by erwaro — November 19, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  46. Well, actually, we’re a bunch of people driven to the comments section of a random webcomic because the Phorum seems to be defunct forever, but same difference.

    Comment by Kari — November 19, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  47. It’s been more than a month now. The shakes have subsided a long time ago and even the headaches are mostly gone. A little longer and I might be free of the habit all together. I am not sure I am comfortable with that.

    Comment by emily — November 19, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

  48. According to my data, the last time the phorum was down it was between Saturday June 20, 2009 to Saturday August 01, 2009. This time the phorum has been down since October 16-17 (also a weekend coincidentally) so if the down period were the same (~42 days) we can expect the phorum to be up by around next weekend (27th-28th).

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 20, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  49. Drinking and driving = not cool.
    Drinking and driving and putting my best friend’s life at risk because you wanted to drink = seriously uncool.
    You idiot! Think for a moment and crash at a friend’s place until you become sober

    Comment by nuttycat — November 21, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  50. On the above (nuttycat) – I am still amazed that many people find it completely normal to drink and drive. One beer/one glass of wine is all right (even legal in most countries, though I prefer zero tolerance, it makes the message clear), but where have these people been in the past few years with all the public information messages?

    I’ve been in a situation probably similar to Your friends this summer … Went out with a few friends in Italy for dinner, guy taking a bunch of us with a car who was a friend of the friends ;-). After some modifications in plans on the way, we ended up crossing the border and having dinner in a small God-forsaken mountain inn in Slovenia :-p (excellent food). Problem: he was drinking as much wine as everyone else (except me).
    I was basically ignored when suggesting that maybe either he shouldn’t, or I should drive (his car).
    For Italian standards he was fairly sober driving back, but I didn’t feel completely comfortable. Usually I’m the designated driver because I don’t drink – but I can hardly drive someone else’s car when they don’t offer.
    My options were pretty much get in the back seat or stay in the middle of the night somewhere in the mountains 30 km from the border and very vague memories how we got there.
    We got back safe, but I was not a happy bunny.

    Talked to these friends since then, and message got relayed a few times to driver guy, but I doubt it will make a difference (well, at least I know for future reference whose car not to get into).

    Comment by mivadar — November 22, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

  51. BTW – follow-up on “quoted” thesis.
    Dude asked me to help him find a job – because I know most groups with positions in the field (true), and if he mentioned that he worked with me, or even better I mentioned him to them, they could place his technical expertise better (???).
    Out of curiosity I looked at his CV – he is apparently an expert in everything I have ever done, 90% of which was done in a previous lab working on things he has nothing to do with.

    Copying text on a subject does not an expert make.

    (Heck, I don’t call myself an expert in the subfield – I’ll need a bunch more years for that.)

    I am starting to go from amused to puzzled to unhappy.
    Long conversation coming up this week …

    The only saving grace is that he is doing this completely openly (openly towards me, that is, probably not the rest of the world) – so either he is completely shameless, or doesn’t see what’s wrong with any of this. I’d like to believe the second option.

    Comment by mivadar — November 22, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  52. Thanks mivadar. The less said the better about this driving thingy I think. It just ruffles my feathers too much (or is it ruffling my fur, since I’m a cat?) To me its plain weird that sometimes people just don’t think.

    Talking about the thesis thingy, have you considered the extremely off chance possibility, that he hasn’t for whatever reason realized that its your thesis that he’s lifted work straight off? Is there a chance that he got hold of a copy of just the text in some manner that doesn’t have your name and hence is blissfully ignorant of the whole thing? (yeah, long shot, but after this semester’s lack-of-clue in some people, it won’t surprise me a whole lot) 🙂

    If he does realize that its your thesis, then yes, long painful conversation is probably due now.

    Comment by nuttycat — November 22, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  53. Disclaimer: I have never watched Glee, or even, as far as I know, seen commercials or had any discussions about it.

    That being said, perhaps the writers were simply confused. High school is a very confusing time, and they may have assumed that they were unpopular despite being fairly high on the totem pole. I mean, if someone is higher up than you, that means you’re low down, right?

    And on that topic, am I the only one who still doesn’t know where, exactly, they fell on the high school popularity scale? Or was my high school just weird? And is it strange that I still have issues spelling “weird” right? I keep wanting to put the “i” first.

    Comment by erwaro — November 22, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  54. mivadar: Sound to me like somebody has the ‘Single White Female’ syndrome, he doesn’t just want to work in the same field as you, he wants TO BE YOU.

    erwaro: Forget you!
    Oo, oo, ooo
    I guess the change in my pocket
    Wasn’t enough and I’m like,
    Forget you!

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 23, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  55. Roeslein:

    I faced a similar decision a year and a half ago, and decided to get a job. I do not regret that decision one bit. I was also burnt out and terrible at keeping up my self-esteem. I might have been happy at the grad program, but my heart was never in research. If you feel burnt out now, it may not be a good idea to start a PhD program right now. It’s better to tell them you’ve decided now is not the time to pursue a PhD than to start the program and drop out in the middle.

    I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but my degree lends itself to a really obvious field. I got a job in that field with a company that has allowed me to try different things within the field, and I’ve found something I’m actually really good at. I never had such a feeling of accomplishment in academia, and I never want to give that feeling up. That means I’ll never get a PhD, but I’m completely fine with that. I also make over twice as much, which helps. 🙂 Getting a job may be the sort of self-esteem boost you need.

    As far as missing your golden opportunity — you’re obviously a smart, talented person who was able to get offered this position in the first place. Granted, in a few years, the exact same position may not be available to you, but I bet a similarly awesome position will be, perhaps in a location you like even better.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

    Comment by Earthgirl — November 23, 2010 @ 2:19 am

  56. Erwaro:

    Yeah, I have my problems suspending disbelief at the popularity scale on Glee as well. In my high school, the drama kids were cool. Hell, usually the male lead was not only a football player but also homecoming king and the senior class president. The chorus kids were somewhat less popular, but just in the sense that people didn’t really know us or go to our parties. We weren’t being actively persecuted. But maybe that’s the difference of attending a private school?

    Comment by Earthgirl — November 23, 2010 @ 2:28 am

  57. Earthgirl: yeah…things are also different in Canada, I think. I find the concept of cheerleaders walking around in their outfits ALL THE TIME bizarre. The drama kids were generally cool in our school, but mostly because the cool kids took drama, not because drama made people cool. As far as I know, there was no stigma attached to joining the choirs or bands (especially the jazz choir and jazz band). Sports existed but weren’t a huge deal. There were certainly ways of being extremely cool or extremely UNcool, but in my experience, they were more related to social interaction than they were to curriculum choice.

    I also think the Glee writers need to talk to some actual teachers and learn the meaning of the expression “teachers’ union.” They apparently think that a temporarily principal is capable of firing a long-term employee who has spent a few days at home with the flu but otherwise done absolutely nothing wrong.

    Comment by Kari — November 23, 2010 @ 3:06 am

  58. I should mention that I am somewhat of a Glee fan (as noted by my song outburst at erwaro) but only as far as the usual song and dance, and I mean that literally. I find that whole USian high school drama/politic thing to be quite tiresome and boring after the first season, so now I usually just Youtube whatever dance and song number they happen to have on that week instead.

    I am also quite happy to see that high school hasn’t change much since the hay day of Degrassi High and Blossom.

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 23, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  59. ALMOST forgot to mention
    Kari: Not everyone can afford the cost and innovativeness to walk around all day in hatched and cross-hatched clothing.

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 23, 2010 @ 4:04 am

  60. My high school was mostly just really small. 200 total students, roughly. The jocks were the student council people, who also were the smart people. We had, barely, most of the time, I think, a choir and a band. And having the cheerleaders wear their uniforms all day is clearly the show pandering to a very specific audience.

    And it just now occurred to me that I really have no idea what’s going on with a lot of things. Was it that way in the original, or are you just trying to be polite. Because I’ve actually heard a version of that that’s much less polite. And seen a video with someone who was actually brought into court for using an impolite word, and proceeded to address the complainer by reading from a letter in which he had substituted the word “forget” for the impolite word.

    And apparently I can’t spell. I’m not that surprised, just irritated. Mostly I get doubled letters wrong.

    And Mister Sunshine, let me just say that I will never forget you. Probably.

    Comment by erwaro — November 23, 2010 @ 5:08 am

  61. erwaro: Nah, forget it, heh.
    Well you did mention Glee:

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 23, 2010 @ 6:11 am

  62. Hoping someone can help me with a latex problem. I’m wanting to have 2 equations on one line numbered together. Basically so you have something like

    2x + y = 4 and x – y = -1 (1a,b)

    so later I can use \eqref to get back (1a,b). I know I can do it manually – but I really don’t want to. Is there any package available that allows this. If I can also later reference them separately that’d be fantastic, but not essential. As a second best, is there a way to append the a,b to the automated 1 so that at least I don’t have to manually do the main count. I usually use subequations to get the a,b etc. – but can’t figure out how to do things on the one line.

    Thanks

    Comment by Mer — November 23, 2010 @ 7:46 am

  63. Is there any reason You don’t want to place a table or minipage environment inside the subequation environment?
    subequation only resets the counters in a nice way, doesn’t do anything else inside the environment, so it’s fairly robust – You can shuffle things around inside it.

    There is a package called empheq that lets You do a lot of funky things around equations, including setting counters in strange places – but it’s an AMS extension, I don’t know which other packages You are using.

    (For setting the counter manually so You don’t have to do the main count, You can always do it playing around with \value{equation} and \addtocounter{equation}{1} – add one to the counter before, use \nonumber and display it manually (\value{equation} a,b). The referencing will probably not work. Is fiddly.)

    I will try to come up with a decent method of doing it if nobody else does. (I just formatted my computer recently, and I haven’t reinstalled LaTeX yet, I use it very rarely because nobody else does, so I can’t circulate TeX drafts – I can’t test code ATM. I’ll install it soon, life without is sad.)

    Comment by mivadar — November 23, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  64. It is snowing, and my first class has been cancelled. The second almost certainly will be as well; the prof commutes, and it tends to snow much harder in other places than it does here. Perhaps this is a sign from above, that I should be productive today.

    Comment by erwaro — November 23, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  65. Erwaro: Are you talking about the song they sang on Glee? There are several versions. The real version is “F*** You”, the radio-safe version is “Forget You” and the indie station here somehow got their hands on a version called “Eff You”, which is my personal favorite.

    Comment by Earthgirl — November 24, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  66. I found it on the internet, without any statement of connection to any show. And I think I would prefer Eff You if we had to make it radio safe. How does “forget” even fit in? F*** You is nicely concise. Eff has to be drawn out a bit, but it still fits. Forget is just too long.

    I’m not sure what I’m talking about anymore. I think it involves the reconstitutionalization of penguin bread bowls.

    Comment by erwaro — November 24, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  67. Thanks for the suggestion mivadar – my reasons against minipages is that it doesn’t group together equations (so you get 2x + y = 3 (1a) 4x -y = 2 (1b). Not sure how essential it is to be able to do it, but I have a fem papers that have this sort of formatting, and either it’s been done manually (the referencing all works) or there’s some way to do it. Just thought there might be a package out there I hadn’t found yet. Will look into empheq – only just found out about that one, and I haven’t looked through all the options/capabilities yet.

    Next Latex problem, is it possible to easily make a list of equation/multline environments look like they are in a gather? Basically so that
    \begin{equation}
    First equation
    \end{equation}
    \begin{equation}
    Second equation}
    \end{equation}

    looks the same as
    \begin{gather}
    First equation \\
    Second equation
    \end{gather}

    (obviously I’m wanting to have at least one in the list as a multline). I know I can simulate multlines using split environments and hspace – but I don’t know how to make intermediate lines right aligned or centred using split in some sort of automated way.

    Comment by Mer — November 25, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  68. Why I never! Some of us believe in reincarnation you know, yep reliving the same thing over and over again but just in a different incarnation.

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 26, 2010 @ 8:30 am

  69. Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it (earlier and yesterday).
    Happy Friday all!

    Comment by nuttycat — November 26, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  70. Very quiet (US) thanksgiving weekend.
    No one seems to be around on WoB … (and I’m in the lab alone again :-p – though the genetically engineered killer-turkey is coming along all right).

    Comment by mivadar — November 28, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  71. Happy Robanukah?

    Comment by SunshineRain — November 28, 2010 @ 1:00 pm


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