November Third

My unlucky streak continues, and here I am with another post to distract myself from it.

It’s not all bad, to be honest. I’ve gone viral on Ukrainian Twitter with a joke about penis sizes. Well, not VIRAL viral but more popular than I ever expected to be. The joke came about as follows. Somebody on Twitter asked, “Is it true that wearing a large shoe size means you have a large penis?” I said, “No, it’s not true. I have a large shoe size and no penis at all.” For some reason, people really warmed up to this response.

I don’t have a large shoe size, by the way. Or a penis.

Today is Thursday, so it’s the quesadilla eaters’ day at work. It’s a group of women under the leadership of my secretary who every Thursday fry quesadillas in the lab and then, for some reason I will never understand or care about seethe with hatred of me. They sit there, eat quesadillas, seethe, roll their eyes and hiss when I pass by, which I do a lot because that’s the only way to get to the toilets, the lab, and the classrooms. These are women who have been unsuccessful as women, so I don’t begrudge them this little bit of joy. But it is kind of funny that they have such intense feelings about me, and I have no emotional response to them at all.

The new top administrator has revealed new depths to his multilayered personality. We now admit all students who apply. Nobody gets turned away. We admit even functionally illiterate people. What do you think this does to our graduation rates?

Yeah, exactly.

Well, the new administrator doesn’t agree with you. Beaming joyously, he regaled us today with the following bit of wisdom, “If we accept everybody. . . we should graduate everybody!” Meaning that admitting illiterate people to college should improve graduation rates.

On another subject, our Student Housing services have a habit of placing students from different cultures together as roommates. The idea is that experiencing another culture is enriching because “diversity is our strength.” It’s not true, of course. Diversity is anything but a strength, so the international students suffer greatly. They spend so much time and effort trying to reunite with their own people that they forget to study. I had to have a conversation with two of them today because they are failing their courses. Both are engaged in intense feuds with their “diverse” roommates because their habits, customs, smells and routines are incompatible. I wonder if the people who invented this “culturally enriching” form of torture ever tried to share the bathroom and the kitchen with a diverse stranger from a different culture.

OK, I don’t really wonder. Nobody would choose to do this of their own free will.

23 thoughts on “November Third

  1. Completely unrelated, but this might cheer you up:
    “Welcome to the Infinite Conversation: an AI generated, never-ending discussion between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek. Everything you hear is fully generated by a machine. The opinions and beliefs expressed do not represent anyone. They are the hallucinations of a slab of silicon.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “They sit there, eat quesadillas, seethe, roll their eyes and hiss when I pass by …”

    They have not been introduced to the joys of Turkish gozleme.

    Otherwise they’d give up their Quesadillas of Misery. 🙂

    “We now admit all students who apply. Nobody gets turned away. We admit even functionally illiterate people. What do you think this does to our graduation rates?”

    I’ll point out that EEOC regulations don’t stop an employer from choosing not to hire someone because of specific educational institutions and backgrounds.

    Which is why those judges who went full on “No To Yale” happen to be well within the law.

    There are specific colleges and universities in the US where the graduates are more likely to spread chaos, rancour, and dysfunction than they are to do their work … and a lot of them are on the West Coast.

    So it’s easier to hire locally.

    In Florida, it’s a lot easier to prefer UF, FSU, and even people with no degrees whatsoever who can do the work. If you want a Legal Beagle, Stetson’s pretty good, and if you need certain kinds of engineers, Embry-Riddle comes out pretty good as well.

    Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting take on this based on some research: the people who went through highly selective processes are better for harder kinds of work than those who didn’t.

    Navy Seals do better than Reservists, for instance, even if they had to stop being Navy Seals because of health conditions that came about in the line of duty.

    So tell your Junior Chief Administrator his problem isn’t graduation rates or even acceptance rates, it’s your students getting jobs after going through a non-highly selective process that may not result in good results that can be applied elsewhere.

    And what’s going to drive down good results faster than Leveller behaviour?

    Everyone’s going to be trying to be that slightly faster guy in the race with the bear: the winner doesn’t have to be a real winner, just faster than everyone else.

    Your problem isn’t that the institution is competing with Princeton or Yale, because it never was.

    It’s that it’s competing with technical colleges who are focused on getting their people some good results so that they can justify the expense of time and money acquiring specific skills.

    But I understand the logic or the attempted simulacrum of it.


    After all, it’s about more legs and more of everything else, isn’t it?

    So more numbers makes this Junior Chief Administrator look good … or does it?


    1. For quite a lot of jobs, they’re not even competing with tech colleges. They’re competing with non-degree-holding. And have been for years. This was revelatory for my husband, when we moved back to FL. He has a liberal arts degree from a reputable college. In sending out dozens of job applications and resumes, he found that listing the degree was a handicap. By NOT listing the degree, and just sticking to relevant work experience, he had an orders-of-magnitude better chance of getting called back/interviewed. There aren’t any jobs for bachelors’ degree holders anymore. For job purposes, you either go on and get a masters in something employable, or you pretend like you don’t have a degree at all. Having just a BA is a black mark on your record, like not graduating high school.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh , he doesn’t care about what happens to these store after graduation. He needs to manufacture some great numbers that will land him a job at Princeton. We are a stepping stone for this fellow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s terrible about your international students and a special kind of torture. These students already live abroad, immersed in another culture which is its own challenge. Why not let them be at least in their own apartments?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. \ That’s terrible about your international students and a special kind of torture.

      Wait, why aren’t international students put together with ‘all-American’ students?

      It sounds as if USA minority and international students are forced to live with each other, while WASP Americans miss their opportunity to meet someone from a different culture. Am I wrong?


        1. At least they had enough sense not to put Russian students together with students from Ukraine to further the spirit of international cooperation?

          Real story: An incoming graduate student sent an email to the department where I have done my PhD asking the admin to help them to find another student to share a room. The email contained only one request: no Japanese please. The hapless admin forwarded the email to all grad students in the entire department. Someone in our lab explained to me that this incoming student comes from an area brutally attacked by Japanese during the second world war. Some things take centuries to forget.


    2. Exactly. I have a guy who’s from a small village in Nigeria. He’s already making a gigantic effort to adapt to what is effectively a different world. Could we at least leave him be at night and not make him deal with a bunch of ultra-sociable Nepalese who cook and party until 4 am. The Nepalese are desperate to be together, too. Why not just let them?


      1. “The Nepalese”

        They seem to be everywhere… a few years ago Nepal was one of the countries granted a lot of work/study permits in Poland and approximately half the staff in the hospitality industry in Malta seems to be from Nepal as well…
        How is anyone left in the country?


        1. I remember hearing that the majority of young men in Nepal work in India. Probably they send remittances to their families.


  4. Netanyahu (32 seats) will be the leftist in the new Israeli government with a far-right Religious Zionism party (14 seats) and 2 Haredi parties (18 seats together):

    “The United States said Wednesday it hopes the next Israeli government will continue to respect minority rights, as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to return to power with help from the far right.”


    // Netanyahu will be dependent on the support of the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism party.

    Its leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have gained notoriety for using anti-Arab rhetoric and advocating the deportation of “disloyal” politicians or civilians.

    Mr Ben-Gvir was a follower of the late, explicitly racist, ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane, whose organisation was banned in Israel and designated as a terrorist group by the United States. Mr Ben-Gvir himself has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation.

    Last month, Mr Ben-Gvir hit the headlines when he was filmed pulling out a gun after being targeted with a stone while visiting the flashpoint Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem, and calling for police to shoot the culprits. //


    Дайджест № 350. По итогам израильских выборов.


    1. “Netanyahu (32 seats) will be the leftist in the new Israeli government ”

      It’s nice to see that Israel has shaken off the chains of the past and is finally trying a new, untested and fresh approach!
      Weird how this new guy (finally! a new face!) has the same name as the old fossil who’s far outlived his usefulness to doing anything productive….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. \ It’s nice to see that Israel has shaken off the chains of the past and is finally trying a new, untested and fresh approach!

        Actually Israel is trying a fresh approach. I even quoted it.

        Netanyahu is old in Israeli politics, but having the likes of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich as his main partners is new.

        Wish Israel stuck to the old recipe instead. 😦


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