Thursday, September 30, 2010

Types of Professors

The new student at a university is sure to confront a bewildering number of professors; and it might be useful to have an understanding of them as social categories. Obviously, there are the subjects or disciplines to categorize them on; but this is another way of looking at the members of this learned profession. I hope you will find this fair and useful; or at least amusing.

The Nonretired Retiree -- This one hasn't revised his notes in ten years. He drones through his classes, and provides an non-habit-forming alternative to Sominex. He rarely keeps office hours, and does the minimum academic work possible. His method of academic advising is to sign whatever you put in front of him. I had one of these once; he approved my taking Introduction to Pole Dancing and Elementary Old English. Does he sign blank checks as well?

The Maverick -- Loved by some graduate students, though he's dangerous to emulate. This is the (usually thirtyish) assistant professor who enjoys tweaking the sensibilities and sacred cattle of the dinosaurs and appearing nightly in the iconoclastic role.

The Dinosaurs -- Faculty members in the fifties; these are long-serving full professors. They have a vested interest in the status quo. They often perform well in the classroom, but are inclined to be superficial. Easy A's or B's.

The Slave-Drivers -- This churlish type exploits graduate students because they can. Some might even press them into being baby sitters for their brood. Strangely, women are especially likely to do this to female graduate students. It's as if their resentments of past mistreatments are translated into ensuring that the present generation of students will also be mistreated as they had been.

The Evangelists -- These are ones on a religious mission: to save the souls of their students. They begin the class with, "Have you heard? Jesus lives!" and end same with "Have a blessed day." Strangely enough, they are not found at mainstream Catholic or Protestant universities, but may find a niche in secular or fundamentalist institutions. Because of the hedonistic nature of 18-year-olds, they are in for a lot of disappointments.

The Standard Warhorses -- These are good; they regard teaching as a life's work and try their best to do it. They are bright, conscientious, and usually deliver well.

The Feminist Battleaxes -- Stocky middle-aged female Liberal Arts faculty members who seem to have a jihad against the Y chromosome. These throwbacks to an earlier time consider their natural enemies to be the Frustrated Jocks and the Sex Kittens. Do not appear to be confrontative, especially if you're a blonde student.

The Frustrated Jocks -- These are the darlings of the Athletic Department; the professors who will cut corners for athletes when needed and they never fail to miss a game. Look for the excessive sports memorabilia in their offices.

The Sex Kittens -- Comely female assistant professors who flaunt their sexiness indiscriminately to both students and fellow faculty members, often with risky décolletage. Usually, this helps obtain an associate professorship in otherwise all-male departments; but she is regarded more as a pet than a colleague until gravity becomes a factor.

The Untenured Mice -- These have not gotten tenured yet, and try to keep as low a profile as possible. They're generally unimaginative, and trod the middle-of-the-road path towards that lofty status. If washing the Dean's and Department Chair's cars would help them get tenure, they would be out with the Turtle Wax. Don't shout "Boo" around them. They're inclined to lose bladder control.

The Administrative Wanabees -- Dresses in a power suits; supports polite liberal causes. These have learned that the top salaries go to administrators and they want some too.

The Amorous Swains -- Female students should watch these fortyish guys. They can be distinguished by their with-it fashions and unusual interests. Rarely are they gropers; mostly they fancy themselves as smooth talkers. Self-delusional. Don't think that they want you to see their etchings!

The Lushes -- Often these are English teachers, perhaps because William Faulkner had been a well-known tippler also. They habitually cut their classes short; and are generally a waste of time. Don't emulate these! Your liver will be grateful.

The Eccentrics -- While these are generally good teachers, students with way, way, way too much time on their hands concoct rumors as to reason for the minor eccentricity. Those rumors of unrequited love or rock careers are as unlikely as mermaids in the Love Canal.

The Nitpickers -- These are the arcane detail mavens. They can be counted on to disgorge esoterica, whether bidden or not. They can be compared to Kirtland's warblers: little birds who nest only in Michigan jack pines. They domicile in major research universities.

The Media Darling -- These are individuals who may or may not be a big name at the local university; but who knows how to make sound bite zingers.

The Zeitgeist Surfers -- These people have catchy and possibly areas of research, and are often called on by media persons looking for an interesting article. One studied personality traits of strippers; another studied the sociology of NASCAR and did her research on the infield at races every other week in during racing season.

The Academic Politicians -- To them, it's the political machinations in any institution that interest them: often of the sociological or political scientist persuasion. They prefer the swinishness of academic politics to the polite politics in the real world. Only a few of these actually run for public office; but will be soundly trounced by the Democratic and Republican professionals.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Birthday

September 25th!

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making all this possible!

(I won't embarass you by wearing a costume like this!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SHOULD Women Be Assholes?

In view of Tuesday's posting, I would like to say that women should not aspire to be assholes.  However, if any woman should, for whatever reasons she might have, desire to be one, then she should be permitted to be all the asshole that she wants to be.

In that same vien, if some man wants to be a bitch, then society should not stand in the way of his actualizing his full bitchiness.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can Women Be Assholes?

This is one of those things -- in less-than-polite society we occasionally hear someone referred to as an asshole; this is not synonymous with rectum, and invariably that person is of the male sex.  Now I have given it some thought, and I wonder just why this is the case?

The interesting thing about these types of assholes is that they're successful in their actions, although annoying and provocative.  Tom Cruise played several characters with asshole traits; but especially Maverick from Top Gun.  Simply stated, guys like assholes, despite their label. 

Is this a quirk of language; and there are different terms used to apply to similarly-behaved people who just happen to be female?  If so, then what is the distaff equivalent to "asshole"?

Or maybe this is one of those cases in which anatomy is destiny.  For example, does possessing breasts inhibits one's capacity to perform in an asshole-like manner?  The scientist in me would suggest that we consult data when in doubt.  For example, it would be reasonable to assume that flat-chested women would be capable of assholedom.  In other words, we would expect a Power Law curve like this:

Bra Cup Size    Percent Assholes
      AA                  20
        A                   2
        B                   1
        C                   0
        D                   0
        DD                 0
        E                   0

Or maybe it's the extra X-chromosome.  If so, there would be no males with Kleinfelter's syndrome who are assholes.  (Persons who have Kleinfelter's syndrome are XXY males.)

A possible interpretation for this comes from cognitive psychology.  Specifically, certain features of the female anatomy serve as cognitive disqualifiers in categorizing a person in this manner.  One prominent possibility would be womanly breasts.  In other words, the mental processes of guys goes like this:

1)  This person is exhibiting annoying, asshole behavior.
2)  Whoops!  She has boobs.
3)  Therefore, this person cannot an asshole.

Actually, another possibility is that women's non-attainment into assholedom is simply a residual societal restriction against women left over from the bygone past.  If so, then achieving assholedom parity should be one of proper goals of feminism!  After all, maybe this is simply a lifestyle choice that few of us have considered, and one that have numerous rewards.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saying Dumb Things

Okay, the Tea Party candidate for Senate, Christine O'Donnell, came out against masturbation several years ago.  This seems to me to be a King Canute comment; you know, the guy who tried to hold back the sea?  Anyway, politicians in setting programs should stick to attainable goals, not insurmountable ones.  Offhand, attempting to make people stop masturbating seems to me to be a non-starter.

But this also raises the "Does She or Doesn't She" issue; and not with Clairol in mind!  Seriously, does the electorate wish to be forced to speculate on a politician's relationship with Mr. Vibrator?

Also, does not this have the effect of dividing us as a Nation further?  We have enough divisions: pro/anti abortion, Repulbican/Democrat, red state/blue state, religious differences, and so on.  Do we want to have more cleavage in our nation in the form of masturbators/non-masturbators (or is it those who admit to masturbating/those who deny doing it)?

Actually, I think the good lady simply got over her excessive piety, and took a more moderate view.  And maybe we should not be too quick as a society to rummage for dumb things that people have said or done in the past.  Look: we have a potential time bomb here.  Doesn't some of the stuff appearing on Facebook also have potential for blowing up in peoples' faces?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Kiss in the Lab

It was entirely unexpected.  Another grad student and I were in the lab together, looking over some data.  Suddenly he impulsively kissed me on the lips.  It was tender and tenative, nothing forced.  Just as I relaxed and softened into the act, he stopped, apparently embarassed at what he had done.  No, there was no tongue play, and no groping -- that would have been too much for the spontaneity.  There was no discussion afterwards; we were content in our awkwardness.  We continued to hold hands for a moment, and I giggled somewhat, and gazed into his deep blue eyes.
No, this was not a scene from a cover of a bodice-ripper, just an afternoon moment.  This is love, scientist-style.

Sometimes brief kisses are the most delicious.  I don't know where this will go . . . .  Is there an elephant in the room?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nobody Knows You're a Dog on the Internet

That bit of internet truism seems to be something of the distant past; which in internet terms is more than ten years ago.  There's several reasons for this.  First is that the hypothesized anonymity of the internet could be easily compromised at least by ISP numbers,  However, the primary reason why that became passé is because of the social media sites.  Frankly, Facebook and MySpace and personal blogs encourage the latent exhibitionist in us.  In other words, we must celebrate ourselves, like Walt Whitman!

Years ago (early 2000) I joined a MSN group called Losers.  Apparently it was started by some MSN staffers and local Seattleites (or however people of that place are called) as an irreverent humor group that eventually totalled 5000 members of different ages and dispositions.  I sensed that I was a bit young for the group; but didn't reveal my age at the time.  (To suggest my age, I had only then gone into high school.)  Anyway, I sort of got accepted and learned a lot about what make twentyish people tick.  I remember GreatUnc as a great guy; I hope he prospers!  And April as a great gal.  Her too!    However, I really still don't see the inherent coolness in Green Day or Dave Matthews Band or Rage Against the Machine; but I faked it okay.

I did post, like many members, the standard swimsuit pic and even my graduation picture.  Plus I learned how to post that sappy Vitamin C song "Graduation Day (Friends Forever.)"  Damn it, it still makes me tear!

Amazingly, I was made an assistant manager of Odd People a bit later.  I kind of shifted over there, as it was more congenial and less contentious.  Mr. Wade (aka Ubergato) was kind enough to trust a New Orleans Yat high schooler to assistant manage his group though I was not reknown for my responsibility as a member.  I thank him for that; he has a good heart and is a good role model.

Anyway, when MSN shut down the groups last year, I was quite sad to see them go.  Odd People migrated to Yuku; but Losers faded away.  In some ways, it was carrying the seeds of its own destruction. 

The groups of yore were a far cry from the slums that were the chatrooms of AOL Hell!  With the creepy questions such as:
   "What is your bra size?"
   "What are you wearing?"  [Subtle!]
   "Do you want to sext"?  [NOT SUBTLE!]

In some respects, the only savings grace of the chatrooms were the names of some of them.
And the likelihood of finding kindred spirits was slight.  I was lucky.  I found a group of age-varied smartasses [Losers], and a group of nice people who enjoyed humor [Odd People].

I try to be funny.  Some people might thing it to be un-ladylike.

To which I say:

"Kiss my posterior!"

Friday, September 10, 2010

True Bitchery

I saw a book by this title in the self-help section of a bookstore.  It was probably intentionally misfiled by a cynical book stocker in that literary megastore that I was frequenting.

The very notion that men might love bitches is, in a way, unsettling.  After all, I have been striving not to be one (with pharmacological assistance sometimes); and the Darwinian implications don't make sense.  Yes, I accept that men's mating preferences have been oriented toward youth, pulcritude, and exclusivity in permanent relationships:  someone who is healthy, who can bear children, who will be around in the long haul to rear them, and who is relatively faithful.  And, yes, playing "hard to get" has been differentially selected as a feminine mating strategy.  After all, who wants to play Post Office with third-class males?

But why would a guy want to be saddled with an unpleasant bitch?  This seems to be contrary to survival.

For God's sake.  Pertuchio, if he had any sense, would have run away from Kate!  And, why has Archie Andrews continued to have this crush on Veronica Lodge?  Anyone with the nervous system of planaria would have seen Betty Cooper was cuter, nicer, more fun!

Here's my thoughts.

Bitchery is a mate-selection tactic when practiced in mild or moderate doses.  Let's face it: bitches are not boring.  Here's why.

First of all, let's be honest: other females are usually the major target of Homo bitcheris; guys are usually treated to mild forms of their bitchery.  Sorry, guys, but it's true.  A lot of true bitch behavior is in order to put down or discommode a possible rival: to put other girls or women in their place.  Did you ever notice that many of those alpha überbitches like on Jersey Shore have their own Snooki as a sidekick?  And they do kick her sometimes.

Women (and girls) are primarily oriented towards relational rather than physical aggression.  As a matter of fact, much of relational aggression may even fly under the radar as bona fide aggression, as far as guys are concerned.  Therefore, guys might interpret the bitchiness of a bitch as being high-strung, or catty, or even possibly high-maintenance.  Therefore, she can be seen as cute but sometimes annoying.

But girls and women: another matter.  They are the ones who shoulder the true extent of bitchiness.

To summarize:

1)  Have a higher threshold of perceiving bitchiness, as well as social perception in general.  
2)  Bitchy behavior may not be perceived, or perceived in a less damaging light.
3)  Are most often secondary or occasional targets of bitchiness.

1)  Have a lower threshold of perceiving bitchiness.
2)  Perceive bitchiness for what it is at full intensity.
3)  Are more often the primary target of bitchiness.

Bitchy women:
1)  Are selective in the targets for their bitchiness.
2)  Use bitchiness to cut down rivals: casting aspersions on their morals, attractiveness, manners, or origins.
3)  Are willing to go for the jugular.

Therefore, bitchiness is, for the women who can pull it off, an adaptive mate-selection and power-enhancement strategy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Introducing St. Heather

It was hardly Father Duffy's dream parish as he had conceived of it in his days as a seminarian: a run-down church in the déclassé part of town, a defunct Catholic school that had been administered by renegade nuns, and the parish named after a most unpromising saint of limited fame and symbolism.

No, he envisioned himself being the pastor of a parish with a cool saint's name, like Saint George, slayer of dragons, or St. Luke, doctor, or Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Domrémy and savior of France.  He would have been content with a St. Catherine or a St. Peter or even a Saint Ignatius (though he was of a suspect order).  Saint John had a nice ring to it, too.  And he could live with a parish named after that old misgyonist, St. Paul.

But Saint Heather?  Now she was just not a household name.  There were no red-letter days for this relatively unknown saint on the calendar.  Eccentric ladies did not claim miracles from this saint, and no pilgrimages streamed to Father Duffy's church to ask for her intercession.  In fact, he couldn't discover anything that St. Heather was known for!  She was officially known as the Patroness of False Facades, not something that the proper confessor may find to be a standard moral exemplar.  All poor Duffy had to go on was a statue of his church's namesake that was unusually garish and well-endowed and attested to its probable origin from Kmart.

This statue embarrassed Father Duffy, who thought it to be too frivolous and distracting to be a proper religious statue.  Indeed, he tried to consign it to the trash collection, but St. Heather's statue kept being returned by the trashman who was also a deacon in the congregation and who found her easy to behold while Duffy was haranguing everyone on their morals.

Then it dawned upon Duffy: he would concoct himself a miracle to draw the hordes of devout!  (Unscrupulous canons in the Middle Ages sometimes did this if they couldn't book a major act or get big-time relics.)  But he needed a new twist to things, so as to not move into the territory of some more-established saint and provoke her wrath.  What would draw supplicants?  What would enliven the Church of St. Heather for the future?

He got his answer, first viewing his strangely proportioned statue of Saint Heather with his usually jaundiced eye and then seeing the nearby clinic that specialized in breast implants.  And now he had a title for the previously-unknown St. Heather: Patroness of the C-cup!  It was a little over the top, but not that much.  After all, this is 2010!  The nearby Figure Enhancement Clinic provided a sizeable donation for the campaign to get started, and Father Duffy now and then mentioned them kindly to parishoners and visitors.

News of these developments were received at the Vatican on the weekend, and somehow the weekend staff let this proposed designation slip through.  It seemed to have the virtue of intensifying the faith, and certainly St. Heather was a good role model.  Eventually, Father Duffy was able to build a larger church that was widely known as St. Heather's Cathedral and Shrine. The neighborhood blossomed also, with parfumieres, lingerie boutiques, and sportswear shops.  There was a bonus in that strippers from miles around sought solace at her shrine.

And it was found by all to be good.  Supplicants by the hundreds came, and they proclaimed to the world the salutory miracles of St. Heather's shrine.  And who would be impious enough to doubt them?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Peace-Keeping Mission

Service as a peace mediator is a tensing, yet satisfying task; and an Ad-Hoc Peacekeeping Mission was dispached to try to hammer out an accord between the warring factions.  Who could not help but wince at the untrammeled hostility and fiery violence that broke out in the unfortunate city of Detroit. nThe nation was mesmerized by the ferocity of the rage, impelled by forces that were clearly not mortal in a sports palace, of all places.  This was the event that caused Holistic Woman, The Masked Psychologist, The Prophetess, The Ambiguous Metrosexual, and Mellow Boy to be assigned to this peace mediation task that entered The Motor City soon after the event.

How to deal with the immediate situation?  An element of Good Karma was needed. Fortunately, Holistic Woman brewed an industrial-sized batch of herbal tea and required each of the combatants to drink.  This tea was a powerful laxative, and their attention was compellingly drawn to more basic concerns!  The cerevesa of the territory was banned from sale, whether in paper cups or in cans.  The Prophetess provided a creative further solution.  Every participant would be required to remove his belt, and to hold a large balloon in one hand.  Admission to rest rooms was only for those with balloons.  She also gave the mandatory two-hour course in Anger Management for Dummies to all participants.

The Masked Psychologist diagnosed the fight participants' problem as involving low self-esteem. Part of it was the unsuccessful semblance of football and baseball played by the local other pro teams, and part was due to the incredibly dumb names that the teams were hampered with.  After all, how can anyone feel well about himself if he plays for a team named the Pacers or the Pistons?  So, the M.P. suggested that team name changes were needed.  Holistic Woman, The Prophetess, and The Ambiguous Metrosexual came up with some alternatives that were ego-elevating yet nonaggressive: The Detriot Dillweeds and the Indiana Ingenues.

The Ambiguous Metrosexual prescribed aloe facials, manicures, yoga, and yogurt for the players and fans.  And new uniforms for the players. Shorts that were less baggy, color schemes that were pastels, and ballet shoes to replace the ugly basketball shoes. (It was a real challenge to find 15E ballet shoes.)  A new form of sportswear was prescribed for Detriot fans: mauve shirts with lace-trimmed collars!  The Detroit City Fathers were struck dumb with amazement and gratitude at these outstanding ideas! They purchased the first fans' sportswear and wore them even during the day at work.

Mellow Boy held back, but then offered his solution: a little weed.  Now if the Feds could be persuaded to look the other way, then this little old fighting problem is solved!