Monday, December 28, 2015

Whale Tail

Unlike the usual setting involving low-rising clothes, this whale tail was spotted off the coast of Dominica.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lip Service to Liberalism in Academe

Most colleges and universities are viewed by the general public as being liberal in political and social philosophy. And so they manage to be, by advocating more diversity, tolerance, politically correct language, and other things that distress conservatives. Oh, there are also allegations of intolerance of conservatives on the faculty, making it harder for them to get tenure or promotions.

Actually, that sort of thing varies from institution to institution.

But there is one area in which universities and colleges can be as grasping and autocratic as tsarist aristocrats or robber barons: how they treat the adjunct professors, part-time professors by any other name. Consider this: Nationwide, the average income for a senior professor is above $80,000 and deans can run in the $125,000 range; typically, an adjunct if he can work at it full-time gets about $20,00o or less.

Also, they're rendered part-time; so there's no health care or retirement benefits. They take a course on spec; if it is canceled, they're left short. Thus, they might wind up getting paid only half as much as they expected by as late as the first day of classes.

It gets worse: the adjunct professors must share office space if they have any at all. This complicates meeting with students for after-class help.  And adjuncts may encounter mortifications to remind them of their lowly position in the scheme of things. (Full-time tenured faculty may also be complicit in this sometimes.)

On some campuses adjunct instructors are moving towards unionization. This is something that universities have brought on themselves. This treatment of adjuncts isn't right; it's a type of serfdom that the well-padded and overpaid administrators encourage.  And it's hypocritical when they turn around and spout liberal buzzwords!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stop! I Don't Wanna Hear It Anymore

Apropos of the many protests currently going on in college campuses, here's a protest song by Melanie Safka, used in the movie R.P.M.

She was a great singer from the early 1970's.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Truly Tasteless, Moronic Banner

This truly tasteless banner was hanging on an off-campus condo in Tuscaloosa. It's just a damned game, idiots! 

I'll pass on the game today. This turned me off.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

USA Today Gets It All Wrong!

USA Today published today a list of the greatest college fight songs.

1.  "Rocky Top" (Tennessee)
2.  "Ramblin' Wreck" (Georgia Tech)
3.  "The Victors" (Michigan)
4.  "Victory Song" (Notre Dame)
5.  "Aggie War Hymn" (Texas A & M)
6.  "Fight On" (USC)
7.  "On, Wisconsin" (Wisconsin)
8.  "Boomer Sooner" (Oklahoma)
9.  "Yea, Alabama"     (Alabama)
10.  "Anchors Aweigh" (Navy)

This list gets a major fail, in my opinion!

Rocky Top and the Victors are overrated. ND's song is a pain. I thought Boomer Sooner was a joke!

Yea Alabama and Anchors Aweigh deserve higher ratings than what they got.

Strangely enough, when I went to vote at Forest Hills School some years ago, the band was playing "On Wisconsin."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Political Party Debates

The television news networks, and the political parties, seem very enamored of having television debates as part of the process in selecting Presidential candidates. And, once the Vice-Presidential candidates are selected by the two major nominees, having at least one of those as well.

The recent Republican candidate debate was really a reductio ad culos.  To begin with, it was lengthy; especially if you include the preliminary one for those not eligible for the main debate. Second, it had too many participants, which made it hard to distinguish among several. Finally, each participant had less than 20 minutes air time; some as little as 10 minutes.

But there are other problems as well. The brief exposure time sets a premium on dropping zingers and cheap sound bites. They have little time to expound on their ideas, making possible complex reasoning seem so simplified!

The also-ran debate seemed extremely poorly conceived: in effect, the audience was primed before by their separation from the others into writing them off as losers or also-rans. In effect, they were relegated to the kids' table in the political feast.

So, in general, it was probably premature to have a debate with so many participants. But Fox and CNN both liked to generate some news lest there is not enough to go around.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gender-Neutral Pronouns at U.T.

The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion recently asked people to use gender-neutral pronouns such as "xe," "xym" and "xyr."  The reason is that not all people think of themselves as "male" or "female," and identify themselves in a different fashion if they are transgender. This proposal was to suggest alternatives for the sex-specific third-person pronouns he, she, him, and her. These suggested alternatives "xe," "xym," and "xyr" are pronounced like "zee," "zim," and "zeer."

Immediately local State Representatives such as Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Se, Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) took issue immediately with this proposal.

My first response was to scoff, thinking it's a hair-brained idea originating in the adminisphere from people who have too little to do with their time. However, the wording of the article said that the Office for Diversity and Inclusion asked!  Therefore, my thoughts on it changed.

In other words, it was a suggestion, not an order. Telling university students and professors what to do as a losing possibility, much like herding cats. What is likely is that some will follow the suggestion; while others, for whatever their reasons might be, will not. By making a request, and not a ukase, it stops it from being a top-down mandate on language. In general, bottom-up usage is more likely to take hold.

Anyway, instructors were asked to learn students' names and pronoun preferences during the first few meetings of a class.

This sounds like a good alternative; given that some students are transgender an may have a difficult life because of it. However many transgender people are around, they don't need another mortification. Therefore, give the students or others the option.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bling for the Butt!

This is sold as a gag gift for cat owners.  It's been my experience with cats is that they are not loath to show their butts.  Imagine this scenario: You're wakening from being asleep.  You slowly wake up, and  the first goddam thing you see is your cat's butt!  It sort of shakes your confidence and you expect that the day is not going to get any better. 

But here's a product to spare you that psychological trauma:  https//

Your cat will enjoy this new look too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How I Spent the Summer of '68

I worked as a counselor in a summer camp near Mentone, Alabama. It was fun; my last howl before adulthood.  Here's the camp song:

"We welcome you to Ponderosa,
We're mighty glad you're here!
We'll send the air reverberating,
With a mighty cheer!
We'll sing you in, we'll sing you out,
For you we'll raise a mighty shout!
Hail hail, the gang's all here,
And we welcome you to Ponderosa!"

A few years before I was operating a radiopositioning transmitter in Alaska alone. Being a counselor was more fun, with the kids and other counselors.  Kudos to Mike and Charlie, admirable psychologists and camp co-directors.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Wit of Foghorn Leghorn

Foghorn Leghorn, the Loudmouthed rooster in the Warner Brothers cartoons, comes out with some zingers reliably.  Nothing like a rooster that I can channel when I want to be a smartass. 

Enjoy his humor. He's my #2 or #3 WB character, after Bugs.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Butch Jones Has a Hissy Fit

Nothing like a little self-control loss by one of those builders of character. Here's Tennessee coach Butch Jones's reaction to "Sweet Home Alabama" at a Tennessee Vols practice. Well, he maybe can control the playlist in Knoxville; but he won't have to wait until October to hear it in Tuscaloosa. They play UF in Gainesville; not to mention 'Bama, Kentucky, and Missouri.

He definitely isn't a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan! I wonder what would be his response to "Freebird"?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Urgent Care Giraffe

On a recent trip to Mississippi, I chanced upon this bizarre spectacle in Gulfport along the highway:

Yes, it was in front of a walk-in medical clinic. Do they have much giraffe business? The clinic itself looked like it was a former gas station.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seagull Administration

Let's consider an administrative style that can be troublesome if you do not understand its normal course.  This is a form of administration in which the performer drops in, squawks, deposits a lot of crap, and flies off to new parts with the likelihood of follow-through being very unlikely.  This is a habit that some hierarchies and deans fall prey to; it comes from a need to be seen as a take charge, big idea kind of leader.

I had a boss at one time who conducted seagull administration: he liked to drop in occasionally, randomly criticize without inquiry or understanding, and then go on, never to bring up the matter again. At first these attentions were disturbing.  However, we came over time to regard that as part of the on-the-job entertainment.

In general, the advice given by family doctors is often applicable: take two aspirins and wait for the symptoms to recede.

A good bartender would recommend taking two doses of Jack Daniel's.  I prefer that solution.

Yes, administrators can drive people to drink. Very rarely to think.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Salaries and Work Enjoyment

I found this chart.  This calls for more empirical research, but it seems intuitive.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Young Duckbutt Learns About Being a College Professor

I was hired by an institution in another state.  Back then, I was in my mid-20's, and had some ideas of what kinds of lofty thoughts and clever sayings were expected of me as a newly minted assistant professor with my recent Ph. D. from the University of Alabama.  I thought I was well-read, kept abreast of current affairs (Hey, I subscribed to Time, had a smattering of philosophy, a limited knowledge of arts, and a lot of brass.)  Yes, I drove a 1967 Volkswagen and had broad tastes in rock music.

My first task on the job, other than filling out a lot of paperwork, was to stand by a door and let students through only if their I.B.M. card had a green stripe on the top where the name was typed.  If they lacked the green stripe, I was to send them down the hall.  I was never told what happened to the green stripers nor the others; the greenies could have been admitted to a wild party or damned from here to eternity, for all I knew.  Oh well, I learned about need to know when I worked for a radiopositioning company.

I guess assistant professors are regarded as in the same category as second lieutenants.

The next day, I went early before classes into the snack bar, met a few fellow faculty members, and thought, "Wow, my first intellectual conversation as a junior college professor!  I hope I can hold my own."

Only it didn't work that way.  The sage elders (pretty nice guys, by the way) were talking about something I knew nothing about.

Cyd Charisse's legs!

Of course!  College professors talk about some of the things that others do.  Actually, they talk a lot of shop, sports, and politics.  Politics?  Up one's wazoo!  Yes, and actresses from before my time.

Anyway, when I took my next teaching job, I was then knowledgeable about Cyd Charisse's legs! Darn it, I was never asked about them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Parody Painting

I found this on the cruise ship Celebrity Silhouette.  It's a great parody of Leonardo da Vinci's La Belle Ferronnière. The artist was Dorothee Golz.  She makes a nice iron maker's daughter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Experimental Archeology of Hairdressing

The concept 'experimental archaeology' conceptually sits uneasily; but the Wall Street Journal reported that a beautician in Baltimore did, through trial and error, determine a possible way in which ancient Roman women could have gotten those elaborate coiffures seen in murals and statues.

No, they did not use wigs; they sewed them together.

Her findings were published in an archaeological journal.  I'm pleased that the editor accepted an article from a nonprofessional archaeologist.  Also, I'm glad that an occasional person is enterprising enough to contribute to the sum total of knowledge.

Now maybe one of her customers will ask her to give her an ancient Roman 'do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Baby, Still One More Time!

I felt that a take-off on Britney Spears' 1999 song applied here.

Kalmykia a country within the Russian Federation, issued a pane of stamps featuring eight female rockers.  I assume the 5.00 refers to five Rubles; but it can be five sweet potatoes, five Bud Lights, or whatever.

For those who prefer, there's the Mariah Carey stamp.  And some others.

The world of postage stamps is an odd one.  First, there are some places that get a lot of revenue from postage stamp collectors, like Pitcairn Island.  (Or the island's 50-60 residents have really humonguous letter writing  habits.)

Then there are some out-and-out fake places issuing postage stamps, like the notorious ones issued by the National Socialist Croatian government in exile:

But these are totally fake, so you need not look for them in your mail.

But Kalmykia is a real place; the only part of European Russia that is largely Buddhist.  These may be locally issued stamps, or they might be fakes.

It's nice to know that other places have their priorities set right.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Troy Abbott Art

 More art from the Celebrity Silhouette.  These images of birds in cages spares the real thing from confinement..