Stay out of my inbox

Nothing makes you dread the New Mail notifier more than, well, new mail, especially if it’s wholly unnecessary, as most of it is, and I have to admit, I’m not as badly squeezed for time as, say, your friendly neighborhood college professor:

“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”

And that stand was elegantly simple:

Screen shot of Professor Duvall's email policy

Which, I concede, is much kinder than RTFS (the last word is “syllabus”), and you can’t argue with these results:

It’s difficult to convey just how wonderful it was for students to stop by office hours more often, to ask questions about assignments in the class periods leading up to due dates, and to have students rise to the expectation that they know the syllabus. Their papers were better, they were more prepared for class time than I’ve ever experienced.

It is also difficult to tally the time I saved by not answering hundreds of brief, inconsequential emails throughout the semester. I can say that the difference in my inbox traffic was noticeable and welcome.

(Via the Instant Man.)

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This was briefly a thing

One thousand followers

Of course, this could not be permitted to stand:

Within three hours, someone had obliged me — as I knew someone would.

Addendum: Someone new has been lured into the fold.

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How many more times?

I didn’t really warm to Led Zeppelin until their second album, the legendary Brown Bomber, so I must yield to Jack Baruth on the matter of the latest incarnation of the first:

The Super Deluxe Edition of the first Zep album is obviously the most commercialized, crass, regrettable, anti-rock, boomer-focused, rich-ass-yuppie piece of stupid bullshit to ever disgrace the name of the band that once bestrode the earth like a Colossus. Except it isn’t. To begin with, it comes with stuff you really want: rare photographs, perfect letterhead facsimiles of press releases, and additional historical information that will be familiar to those of us who have read all the Zep biographies but is presented in compelling fashion nonetheless.

The music itself — well, I had concerns. Page is an old man now and who knows how good his ears are when it comes to remastering and mixing forty-five-year-old tracks? No need to worry. He did a good job, at least by my standards.

And for your $118.98 (at this writing), Amazon semi-generously throws in an MP3 copy (regularly $13.49).

Not that I’m going to complain, having spent $60 or so for the four-disc Pet Sounds box set, and we know how Brian Wilson’s ears are, especially the right one.

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Semi-useful household advice

I’m not sure why this was stuck onto a My Little Pony-related post, but what the heck:

Watch for chewing, especially around items such as electric cords. Ferrets are also prone to certain illnesses — and injuries — and may also require emergency services. Don’t make any sudden movements as you don’t want your boa constrictor to bite you as boas are sensitive to humans and can easily feel threatened.

And sometimes they’re hungry.

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Helping make an indifference

Jumping off from last week’s QOTW, mushroom observes:

If you look at most of what drives the discussions about political parties it often revolves around whether or not politicians care. Bill Clinton was elected because he could feel our pain, not to mention feeling up our interns. George Bush campaigned as a compassionate conservative and suffered because he was supposedly uncaring with regard to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Obama has taken a hit recently because he was yucking it up on the golf course with his celebrity partners moments after a press conference in which he expressed outrage and grief over the beheading of journalist James Foley.

Democrats and Republicans, all successful politicians are good at pretending to care about the concerns of their constituencies. The truth is that most of them really only care about themselves, their own financial and professional success, and the pursuit of power. Most are lawyers. Lawyers are people who make a living by pretending to be a friend speaking for whomever is paying them.

If we’re going to play Maximum Cynic here — and really, why shouldn’t we? — this could benefit Hillary Clinton in 2016, since nobody is likely to be emotionally invested in the idea that she cares.

On t’other hand, there’s such a thing as Constituent Service, when you have to ask a favor of a pol even though you’re not in a position to add to the contents of his wallet or the cash flow of his PAC. This state’s delegation is mostly pretty good at it, I am told, though it’s been many years since I had to call on a member. (How long ago? There were Democrats elected from this state.)

And I have to wonder if the mavericks in Congress — our own Tom Coburn is a prime example — are that way because they’re not lawyers. (Coburn, lest we forget, is an OB/GYN.)

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Let the stars of Twilight thereof be dark

It has never been any particular secret that you can sing “Amazing Grace” over the theme from Gilligan’s Island. (Or, for that matter, the other way around.) As the phrase goes, four chords, no waiting.

Presumably, though, a line must be drawn somewhere:

In February, I asked if anyone else was uncomfortable with Dan Schutte’s Mass of Christ the Savior (2010) — which appears to be written in a secular style.

Some other Dan should be mentioned: Daniel Ingram, who’s responsible for the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly.

No, seriously. Listen for yourself.

We have to assume that this was unintentional. Still, it clearly has the power to unsettle.

(Roger Green sent me this. The title is from Job 3:9.)

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None of which explains Goofy

Okay, I’m willing to accept Taylor Swift as an information-security specialist, but this is a bridge too far:

I (along with every other woman who was once in third grade in the early 1990’s) was shocked, absolutely SHOCKED to recently learn that Hello Kitty is not, in fact, actually a cat.

“Wait, WHAT?” you say. “But the ears … and the whiskers … and her last name is Kitty … wait, are you punking me, because if you’re not, wait WHAT?”

Well, actually, her last name is White. But still:

Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii (who is curating an upcoming Hello Kitty retrospective for the Japanese American National Museum), told the L.A. Times that she had referred to Hello Kitty as a cat in her written text for the exhibition, and Sanrio was like “Actually … no.”

“I was corrected — very firmly,” Yano said. “That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”

You have to figure that Sanrio would know these things, but I keep wondering what else they haven’t told us about Kitty, like that facial expression right out of Harlan Ellison.

I suppose I need to ask Twilight Sparkle if she is in fact a pony.

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Odium at the podium

We are now a week and a half into the new school year in the Little Rock School District, and there’s nothing yet floating around about possible violations of the new dress code for teachers [pdf], enacted last year and now in effect. Some of the highlights:

“Foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style, and/or fabric,” the letter reads. “No see-through or sheer clothing shall be allowed, and no skin shall be visible between pants/trousers, skirts, and shirts/blouses at any time.”

T-shirts, patches and other clothing containing slogans for beer, alcohol, drugs, gangs or sex will also be prohibited. Other verboten garments will include cut-off jeans with ragged edges, cut-out dresses and spaghetti-straps if teachers aren’t wearing at least two layers.

Flip-flops will be banned. “Tattoos must be covered if at all possible.” No jogging suits, either (though gym and dance teachers do get a pass on this one).

And the very worst of all: No spandex.

I know of only one teacher — not in that district, or even in that state — who’s admitted to wearing flip-flops; if she ever went commando, I don’t know about it.

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Copied wrong

A report from the Tumblr front:

Recently I received a notice from Tumblr which threatened deletion of this blog. It was a FINAL WARNING. I have never been warned about deletion previously, so it’s curious why they are calling this FINAL. I emailed Tumblr support, and was told “the email you received was due to an automated DMCA notification processing system that may have gone awry.” Checking a few other blogs, I saw that several others received the exact same notice.

“May have,” they said.

It’s frightening how the people who run social media sites like Facebook and Tumblr care so little about their users that they would wipe out years of work with a single keystroke. None of us are safe online, and things appear to be getting worse rather than getting better.

For an example of “worse,” see this yutz who’s all bent out of shape because someone insulted him; he demands satisfaction.

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As mineral as it gets

We are assured that this rock salt has not been in any way genetically modified:

Non-GMO rock salt

Well, I feel better. Now if we can just get some more of that carbon-free sugar.

(Found by Jacqueline Passey Mason. Remember her?)

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Meanwhile in Montgomery

A change in legislative compensation is coming for the Alabama legislature:

Starting after this year’s elections, Alabama lawmakers will be paid the median household income for the state.

The state has hired a law firm to help determine that amount.

In 2012, Alabamians approved a constitutional amendment making the change in lawmaker pay.

Well, okay. Did it take a law firm to determine this amount?

In 2012, the median household income in Alabama was about $42,000.

Not mentioned in the article: how much they’re getting now. Reid Wilson of WaPo ferreted that out last year:

Alabama legislators only make $10 a day in actual salary, but they get $4,308 a month in expense budgets and $50 a day when the legislature meets.

Says Wikipedia: “The length of the regular session is limited to 30 meeting days within a period of 105 calendar days. Session weeks consist of meetings of the full chamber and committee meetings.”

So this is, then, a raise? And state voters approved it? Then again, these hardy souls must deal with the Alabama Constitution of 1901, which runs over 340,000 words, or about half the size of Atlas Shrugged.

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Untrue to its contents

This spam was from, it said, “Cable Service,” and the subject was “Optimize your viewing experience with cable TV.”

Then followed three links, anchored as follows:

  • Greencard
  • Need a Greencard? Get help from experienced US Attorneys – Attorney Advertisement
  • Work legally with a greencard.

And, you know, the CableCARD is dead.

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Winding up like this

From about a week and a half ago, here’s Jessica Alba, doing that ceremonial first-pitch thing for the Dodgers:

Jessica Alba throws out the first pitch at Chavez Ravine

Good form, as they say. Still, the Brewers scored seven runs in the first four innings and the Dodgers failed to catch up, falling 7-2.

Speaking of good form, here’s a January still from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

Jessica Alba looking Jessica Alba-esque

Readers of Fashion Bomb Daily approved this look by better than seven to two.

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Dropping Thabeet

Hasheem the Dream heads northeast:

The Thunder have traded Hasheem Thabeet, along with cash considerations, to the 76ers who absorb his contract into their cap space, creating a $1.25 million trade exception.

Why did the Thunder do this? With the emergence of Steven Adams, plus the addition of Mitch McGary, Thabeet [was] firmly the Thunder’s third center and nothing more than an insurance policy. His contract for next season was non-guaranteed ($1.2 million) and was likely to be waived in training camp anyway.

On the upside, if the Sixers keep him, he’s likely to see more time on the floor, if only because there’s likely to be a whole lot of garbage time, especially if Philly isn’t substantially improved from last season, “one of the most dismal in franchise history.”

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Walking off from the runoff

I cast ballot #290, according to the machine, at 4:53 pm. With competitive races in both parties, I think I was expecting a few more than that. Still, there are lots of folks wedded to the concept of “Runoff, schmunoff.” Perhaps one of these years we can do the Instant Runoff thing.

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Non-shiny happy people

Apparently it’s possible, even in this day and age:

I was thinking about my old high school French teacher again this morning as I trudged up the stairs to my office. Specifically, how I remember seeing him on his way to work (the prep school I attended had a few houses that they used to provide housing for some faculty. He and his wife had a house close to campus). He was frequently whistling and swinging his briefcase. And thinking about that makes me sad because while I value my work deeply, I never quite feel like whistling and swinging whatever I am carrying (I don’t carry a briefcase) as I head in to work. And I wonder, how does someone learn to be that happy-go-lucky? By all rights I should be like that — I have an extremely good life, unbelievably good by global standards — and yet I’m so serious all the time. And stuff, little stuff, gets to me and sucks out the joy I might feel.

I think part of it may be hard-coded into the genome. Mark Twain’s Old Man in “What Is Man?”, 1906:

I know them well. They are extremes, abnormals; their temperaments are as opposite as the poles. Their life-histories are about alike — but look at the results! Their ages are about the same — about around fifty. Burgess had always been buoyant, hopeful, happy; Adams has always been cheerless, hopeless, despondent. As young fellows both tried country journalism — and failed. Burgess didn’t seem to mind it; Adams couldn’t smile, he could only mourn and groan over what had happened and torture himself with vain regrets for not having done so and so instead of so and so — THEN he would have succeeded. They tried the law — and failed. Burgess remained happy — because he couldn’t help it. Adams was wretched — because he couldn’t help it. From that day to this, those two men have gone on trying things and failing: Burgess has come out happy and cheerful every time; Adams the reverse. And we do absolutely know that these men’s inborn temperaments have remained unchanged through all the vicissitudes of their material affairs. Let us see how it is with their immaterials. Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been zealous Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps. Burgess has always found happiness and Adams unhappiness in these several political beliefs and in their migrations out of them. Both of these men have been Presbyterians, Universalists, Methodists, Catholics — then Presbyterians again, then Methodists again. Burgess has always found rest in these excursions, and Adams unrest. They are trying Christian Science, now, with the customary result, the inevitable result. No political or religious belief can make Burgess unhappy or the other man happy.

I assure you it is purely a matter of temperament. Beliefs are ACQUIREMENTS, temperaments are BORN; beliefs are subject to change, nothing whatever can change temperament.

Aside: I’ll never know precisely how much that essay affected me when I read it as a tween. Call it an acquired belief.

A possibility:

Maybe he never watched the news. That could be part of it.

I’m sure not watching the news has helped my sense of self.

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