Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Table tennis terminology

I find awkward, and I know (courtesy of that some people deplore the habit of, constantly referring in one's blog to 'a friend' or some such (rather than naming said friend). If there are other people in my story, it makes back-references difficult -- the constant refrain of 'my friend', 'that friend', 'the friend I mentioned' &c. is difficult to decipher -- if not actually impossible when, for example, talking about two anonymous friends (fortunately, given my social life, an unlikelihood). However, since keeping excessive personally identifying information (at that, information that personally identifies other, possibly non-consenting, people) out of one's blog -- especially a blog as coast-to-coast popular as this one -- seems to be a good idea, I've been at a bit of a loss for how to resolve this problem. I was recently reading a blog -- of course I realise that that attribution is no more specific than 'a friend', but I really don't remember what its name was -- which used the convention of referring to people by an initial. Therefore, in the fond hope that I never have to know more than 25 people (for of course 'I' is already taken!), and that my acquaintances will have the good sense not to cluster around any letter of the alphabet, I take the bold step of declaring that, hereinafter, I will call my wife M, and the friend mentioned in my post "The dexterity of Loren" A.

Anyway -- my 'mentor' (the title given here to the senior faculty member who plays the role of advisor to a junior faculty member such as myself), who, in the spirit of things, I will call S, recently came by my office to talk about a paper of his I'm reading. He noticed when he came by that I had a table-tennis racquet (paddle? -- I'm never quite sure, but Wikipedia, that faultless font of information, says the former), and asked had I in fact bought one of my own (as opposed to using one of the many which are in the room by the table tennis table (well, what would you call it?) downstairs), to which (sparkling conversationalist that I am) I replied that, yes, I had. In fact, A and I had made an even bigger purchase on the day we bought racquets, at which I will hint as follows: The instruments needed for table tennis (once table and net are in place) are, essentially, two, one of which I have already mentioned, and the other of which it is useful to have in collections of six or so. We bought a packet of six of these and, since there seemed to be no point in splitting them up, we left all six in A's office. Thus it was that I nearly added "I've finally got some balls of my own, too, but A is holding them for me." Fortunately I reconsidered.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A quick lesson in percentages

Dilbert is simply being modest. As he is certainly perfectly aware, given that his budget was cut by 10% and then he came in 10% over this revised budget, he spent only 99% of the funds requested, not all of them.

Since Scott Adams is deeply concerned with my point of view, I looked for a contact link, but, funnily enough, he seems to have forgotten to include it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

This is your tracking number

I was at the post office yesterday (of which more, theoretically, later), behind someone who was shipping a package. The clerk rang up the postage and did all those other fun things clerks do, before giving the customer his tracking number and saying, for the benefit of the slow ones in the class, "This is your tracking number." Of course I've heard this phrase many times before, but something in his intonation was such that I couldn't help elaborating to myself:
"This is your tracking number. There are many like it, but this one is yours .... Without you, your tracking number is useless. Without your tracking number, you are useless. You must enter your tracking number at the following web site" &c.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength ...

... and suicide is an act of war. I don't like just to post a link and leave it at that, but neither do I know how to comment on this except through enraged and astonished sputtering, which doesn't translate too well to a blog post. (The news story, incidentally, repeatedly quotes the military's assertion that the suicides were in fact an act of 'asymmetrical' warfare, which I accepted -- why, after all, would a rear admiral lie to me? -- until my wife pointed out that those military men who think suicide is such a great warfare strategy could just try it themselves.)

(P.S. On rereading, I am forced to admit that a blog post is probably the best medium to which to translate enraged and astonished sputtering -- or at least the medium to which E&AS is most often translated; but this is still not to say that it's desirable to do so.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Conflict in Egypt

Despite my best efforts, my first reaction on hearing about riots among Coptic Christians in Egypt after several Christian churches were attacked by a knife-wielding Muslim was not to think "What a shame. If only the differing religions of the world could learn to tolerate one another." but, rather, to picture one Muslim saying to another "Cheese it, it's the Copts!"

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Homosexuals of the world, rejoice, for 'conversion therapist' Richard Cohen (who is 'ex-gay') can cure you. In order, for example, to cure you, the homosexual male, of wanting to be held by a man, he will hold you. You can also exorcise your, or at least his, anger by beating up a pillow. (That link points to, and most of the information in this post comes from, Crooks and Liars). Of course, to cement his 'ex-gay' status, Richard Cohen entered into a loving, healthy marriage which was arranged for him by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. He did not, however -- it's funny how these things slip your mind -- become licensed as a therapist, and indeed was permanently expelled from the American Counselling Association.

So far, as I've mentioned, this is essentially just a rehash of information from Crooks and Liars. What brought me to make this post is the reason Cohen gave for why he was never licensed as a therapist:

"I didn't want to jump through the hoops and deal with the heterophobia and anti-ex-gay attitudes."
Well, nothing brings me more pride than being up-to-date on my understanding of the latest in discrimination, but anti-ex-gay bigotry is a new one even to me. ('Hetero-' meaning "different", though, I can only assume that 'heterophobia' means "fear of the different" -- scarcely a new bigotry.)