Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rest In Bits


"For my recently departed brother (long illness, don't smoke!), I thought this nice SPARCstation would be a cool place to spend eternity. Yes, he's really in there (after cremation). I kept the floppy drive cover but for space reasons removed the floppy drive, hard drive, and most of the power supply. I left behind the motherboard and power switch and plugs to keep all openings covered. The case worked quite well at his memorial party. His friends and family were able to leave their final good-byes on post-notes. Anyone who wanted to keep their words private could just slip their note into the case through the floppy slot. All notes will be sealed in plastic and placed within the case. There has been one complication. His daughters like the look of it so much they aren't now sure if they want to bury him. One more thing: the words on the plaque really do capture one of the last things he ever said. Of course as kids we watched the show in its first run."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lumpen Web Comic

Here's today's odd internet artifact. It's a web comic called Goodbye Chains:

"Colin Lord is a cheerful Boston Communist, and Banquo White is a cranky half-Mexican with no philosophy beyond hedonism. Somehow they have become partners in crime, spreading a reign of terror and dialectical materialism across the plains of Colorado. Follow their adventures with explosives and ladies -- and, possibly, men."

The web is a very odd place.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Resisting Infinity

Dead Voles has nice post on the Infinity Standard.

1.) In the work of doing good, effort causes good. 2.) All possible good should be done, and 3.) all foregone effort is foregone good. 4.) In principle, there is no condition one can be in where slightly more effort is not possible. 5.) With infinite effort, infinite good can be done. 6.) Therefore, infinity is the standard. Anything short is deplorable dereliction.
Reading this sparked the post below on the need for a personal mission statement. My current academic unit has recently been remade by upper-level administrators. What this means in practice is that everything needs to be redone now. The absence of very basic things, like faculty governance, promotion and tenure documents, student degree-checks, and even computer support for faculty, are all starting to become acute. Every one of these gaps is a crisis that needs immediate attention. Part of restructuring of my unit entailed streamlining, so we are now an eighth the size we used to be. This means that all the details of running an academic program have to be recreated by a very, very small group of faculty. We are busy reinventing many wheels.

The infinity standard resonates for me right now. Like the vast majority of academics, we care about our teaching and our students and our research. They are important to us beyond simply being our jobs. This creates many problems, but right now it means that everyone sincerely wants to fix everything and they want to fix it now. It will in fact be good to fix these things, and there is nothing on our to do list that can't be accomplished by just a little extra effort. The problem is that our to do list is so long and we are so few that all those extra efforts add up to more than can possibly be done this year. Trying to prioritize and resist some things in favor of others can feel like, and be perceived as, a dereliction of duty.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Need A Mission Statement

My university has a mission statement. My college has a mission statement. My (former) department and (current) program both have mission statements. These documents all tend to be vaguely noble, yet also strangely nebulous. However, that doesn't seem to stop all manner of policies from being implemented in the name of these mission statements.

I think I need a mission statement too.

I need a mission statement that "encourages and fosters the growth of" my sanity.  A mission statement that "advances the twin goals" of lowering my blood pressure and calming my nerves through the "creation and cultivation" of peaceful working environments. I need a mission statement that "recognizes the continuing importance" of my ongoing financial well being and "seeks to achieve these goals through the development and implementation of creative and innovative policies and practices."

Do you think I should post my mission statement on my door underneath my office hours?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Facebook International Politics

Via. Excellent internet snark from the Maila Times:

Islamabad, Pakistan: A diplomatic scandal erupted online yesterday when the Foreign Office of Pakistan found out that China, Pakistan’s so called “BFF,” de-friended Pakistan on Facebook. Initially, Pakistan thought that it was just an error, but senior ISI officials, after logging into Facebook through another account, confirmed that China had indeed removed Pakistan as a friend on Facebook.

Reports indicate that China is upset at Pakistan because they have started to become jealous of Pakistan over recent wall posts written by US diplomats on Pakistan’s wall. There were also questionable and scandalous photographs of Pakistani diplomats and US officials flirting in a night of debauchery in a local Chinese restaurant, which may have offended China.

Tensions have recently been high with the “Friends of Pakistan” group, as several of them have started to put Pakistan on limited profile and have ignored reciprocal ‘poke’ requests by Pakistan. Saudi Arabia complained a few days ago that Pakistan just ‘likes’ everything that the USA posts. The Saudi Foreign Minister has characterized Pakistan’s Facebook antics as “whorish,” and thinks that Pakistan is too much of a stalker.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're #37

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Birthday Internet!


"I'd like to wish a happy birthday to the Internet! Today marks its 40th birthday! In fall 1969, computers sending data between two California universities set the stage for the Internet, which became a household word in the 1990s. On September 2nd 1969, in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, two computers passed test data through a 15-foot gray cable. Stanford Research Institute joined the fledgling ARPANET network a month later; UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah joined by years end, and the internet was born."