Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"The real world is really tough"

This year's "whiny college graduate unprepared for the job market" letter to the editor is in the Buffalo News.
Upon graduating, I was helplessly launched headfirst into the “real world,” equipped with a degree in history and $32,000 in student loans. Before ricocheting back home, I would learn two important lessons: 1) There are no well-paying — let alone paying — jobs for history majors. 2) The real world is really tough.
(That should be "there are no paying — let alone well-paying — jobs for history majors". That's how the "this, let alone that" structure is used: The first example is general, the second more specific. Otherwise it makes no sense. But then you're a history major, not a language major, aren't you?)
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I had no intention of living in a society that was as unfair as this one. To seek a haven devoid of the ruthless 9-to-5 ebb and flow of contemporary America, I moved to Alaska.

As a liberal arts major, I dreamed of making a profound difference in people’s lives.
Doing what, exactly? What kind of life would you judge your history degree has prepared you for? What did you have in mind?
Instead, for a year, I lived in Coldfoot, a town north of the Arctic Circle that resembles a Soviet Gulag camp. My job as a tour guide for visitors...
This "Soviet Gulag camp" of a town has a tourism industry? Why, yes it does. It isn't the bustling metropolis Cicely is, but it has its charms -- apparently lost on Ken, here.

I've read this letter five or six times now, and it keeps getting funnier every time I read it. I just wish the paper had done a sidebar interview with his parents.

See also:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not that there's anything wrong with that

AP | J.K. Rowling outs Hogwarts character
Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.

Tristan and Isolde. Merlin and Nimue. Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Doesn't quite have the same mythic je ne se quoi, does it?

C'mon. Despite its phenomenal popularity, the Potter series is a children's book. Authority figures in children's books are almost completely sexless. The tragedy of the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald works without introducing the "romance that was not meant to be" motif into it.

Argh. Every minute I spend thinking about this yields another wrongness.

"I'm Dumbledore's man."

"Is it love again?" said Voldemort, his snake's face jeering. "Dumbledore's favorite solution, love..."

"Severus Snape wasn't yours," said Harry. "Snape was Dumbledore's..."

Headmaster. AAARGGGHH!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekend Monitor

purple skies.
Originally uploaded by D.James.
Yike! My defibrillator is being recalled!

Don't jog during thunderstorms!

Hypothesis: The little picture of a gas pump next to your car's fuel indicator tells you which side of your car the gas tank is on. Can this possibly be true?

CNN Money: Over half of the $8 billion the IRS expected to pay out in phone tax refunds remains unclaimed.

Freakonomics: If the personal computer were being put on the market for the first time now, what would they call it?

Argh Ink: The secret to writing romance is understanding the Glittery HooHa.

CNN: Bonnie Raitt answers your questions about nuclear power.

Wise Bread: Cracking the infamous McDonald's Monopoly Game.

Baltimore Sun: Believe your noodly master, Hon.

Special section: Education

For class of S.F. high school juniors, WWII details are elusive

School District Halts Shakespeare Production: Official Cites 'Inappropriate' Content

A crossword puzzle assigned as a homework lesson for fifth-graders studying a book about the 19th-century South asked them to use a racial slur _ the N-word _ as an answer.

College students having sex -- well, a little

Orestad Gymnasium, Denmark

What would you do if you found your child's elementary school teacher topless on MySpace? Knoxville News Sentinel; WATE; TransWorldNews; Web Site Traffic Marketing (if you want to see the pictures in question; they're much more modest than you might imagine). As of Monday, she's been cleared to return to class, since an investigation has so far been unable to show she did anything wrong. (She may not have posted the photos herself.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Sputnik Day!

Sputnik cup holder
Originally uploaded by m5.
Thanks, Ron, for reminding me of this landmark.

New York Times: It's difficult to recapture the sense of paranoia and self-doubt that Sputnik created in the U.S., but the New York Times' coverage of that week helps a bit.

Ron adds:

The ‘New York Times’: Spreading paranoia and self-doubt for fifty years! :) (At least.)

And counting.

New York Times: After all, the first step into space was an achievement that transcended politics.

Bwah hah hah, I say, and furthermore, chortle. Ron observes:

Tell that ‘un to Wernher von Braun. He probably could have put ‘Explorer 1’ up a coupla months before ‘Sputnik,’ except that Dwight Eisenhower insisted America’s first satellite go up on a ‘civilian’ booster.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Here, there, and everywhere

pink AK-47
Originally uploaded by pinkrifledotcom.
Gun Marketers Sez: "Pink Is For Girls." (Original story at Ananova.)

Yahoo News: Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House.

Reuters: Advertisers aiming to reach high-flyers with no alternative distraction will soon have a new method: adverts the size of three football pitches seen by plane passengers coming in to land.

...Paul Jenkins, managing director of Ad-Air, said the adverts would appear in "clutter-free environments and moments free of any other commercial messages."

He sounds like he thinks this is a good thing.

I wonder where they found otherwise-undeveloped five-acre plots close enough to major airports to bother. Specifically, I wonder where the proposed Atlanta ad is.

On the plus side, you can't see it while you're stranded on the tarmac.

Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined.

Consumerist: DirecTV is making automated calls to their Do Not Call List subscribers, offering them the option to reverse their decision.

We initiated this recent do-not-call update campaign in order to make sure that information about our customers' preferences is up to date and accurately reflects our customers' wishes. We have found that a customer who at one time requested to be put on our internal do-not-call list may later decide that he or she would like to receive information from us about a variety of things.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

What is the Monkeysphere?

Jim Nabors, perhaps best known as his loveable, often-bumbling character Gomer Pyle from the hit CBS television show “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” was promoted to Honorary Corporal in a sunset ceremony held at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki Sept. 25.