Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hard mistake

It's been a while, I've been distracted with end of term. That's all over now. I plan to post thoughts on my first year of graduate school later. For now, a silly story.

A University of Michigan professor of archaeology recently took his 7-year-old son to a Detroit Tiger's game. The boy was thirsty, so dad bought him a lemonade. Oops, it was alcoholic - a Mike's Hard Lemonade. In the ninth inning, a security guard stopped by and took the bottle from the kid. Sounds like an honest mistake, right? Enlighten the guy and be done with it. Well, no.

The kid was rushed to the children's hospital, given blood tests, and observed for the rest of the day. The father was questioned by police, and then child services took the kid into foster care, where he remained for two days until his mother was allowed to retrieve him. The father was then forced to move to a hotel for a week.

All of this for 12 ounces of sugary swill? This man was ostracized and denied parental rights - legally obligated recourse - because he accidently fed his child a few grams of alcohol, but there is no action against parents that chronically medicate, overfeed, and home school their children into oblivion. The worst part? That lemonade cost 7 dollars! Continue reading "Hard mistake"!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Elements of a good evening

Finals are approaching. I studied all day and rewarded myself.

Otherwise busy with more end of term nonsense. Frak! Undergraduate interviews, experiment planning, conference scheduling, advisory-committee forming, meetings...

Some quick notes.

Today is the 76th birthday of Cheeta (aka Jiggs), the oldest non-human primate. Cheeta appeared in some of the Tarzan movies, Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (which sounds amazing) and the original Doctor Doolittle. There are plans for a ghost-written autobiography.

This article from The Atlantic critiques the state of education in America and offers some suggestions in the spirit of Horace Mann. It's one of those problems without a clear solution and I don't think we're to see any change soon. At least not until unscrupulous, out of touch baby boomers are gone from local school boards and teacher unions. Study your maths, kids!

There is a vacancy at the post of London Underground announcer, and people want David Attenborough to fill it. The woman who has provided the vocals for the "mind the gap" and other Tube voice overs years past was sacked a while back, partly over spoof announcements posted on her website, such as "We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly" (its true, the gits).

Cheers Continue reading "Elements of a good evening"!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One more thing I can blame on George W. Bush

I didn't get the NSF fellowship. No, it wasn't some demented April-Fool's joke, I tripled checked the list for my name. Today I've oscillated between vague annoyance and bitter resentment, but thankfully this has little bearing on my future in graduate school. Contrary to popular belief, life is not all about the Benjamins. I also maintain eligibility for the fellowship this fall, so I can reapply if I wish. The experience wasn't a complete waste of time, however, as the NSF politely awarded me an Honorable Mention (read: better luck next time, sucker!). This is actually a nice distinction. It means I was in roughly the top 20% of applications, just missed that elusive It Factor, that hook.

Jeremiah, fellow first year, received one of the awards. He totally deserves it (though, so do I), but of course I can't help feeling a little competitive. This is how I imagined everything would play out. I assumed one of us, if any, would get it. Given the limits placed on federal research funding over the past few years, these organizations are left with fewer awards and growing applicant pools.

So today, I am the bridesmaid, the wingman. I am Barney Rubble and Fred Mertz. Continue reading "One more thing I can blame on George W. Bush"!