Plagiarism

by Kieran Healy on June 4, 2004

Teresa Nielsen Hayden “takes a contrarian line”:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005309.html on a story about Michael Gunn, an English student who “got caught for plagiarism”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/3753065.stm but is now suing because claims he was not informed it was wrong and was shocked — shocked — to be told it was. “I hold my hands up. I did plagiarise. I never dreamt it was a problem” says the guy, “but they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay at the beginning and warned me of the problems and consequences, it would be fair enough. But all my essays were handed back with good marks, and no one spotted it.” Teresa says:

bq. My first reaction was “Nice try, kid.” On second thought, he does have a point. It’s not enough of a point, but he has one.

I don’t think he has a point.

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Don’t Upgrade

by Kieran Healy on June 4, 2004

As a devotee of “structured procrastination”:http://www-csli.stanford.edu/~john/procrastination.html I am constantly on the lookout for things to be doing instead of whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. As long as what you’re doing has some value (even if it has less value than what you’re supposed to be doing) then you can end up accomplishing a reasonable amount, except for that thing you avoided doing. But I’ve learned the hard way that installing and, especially, upgrading software does not fall into the category of Inadvertently Productive Activity. Upgrading is basically guaranteed to not work properly, break something or otherwise create some unexpected and unpleasant effect. Upgrading can be perversely satisfying because you then have to fix whatever it is that got broken, which can involve a considerable amount of clever diagnosis and problem-solving to bring you back to the point where you were yesterday, before you upgraded. But this is not a healthy approach to life.

This is all common knowledge amongst software developers so I’m surprised that no-one told “The Royal Bank of Canada”:http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040603.wroyal0603/BNStory/Front/ about it.

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Copenhagen Interpretation

by John Quiggin on June 4, 2004

How would you rank the following priorities for making the planet a better place?

* A major improvement in health in poor countries, saving millions of lives each year

* Substantial progress in reducing the rate of climate change, preventing large-scale species extinctions and other environmental damage

* New and improved advertisements for consumer goods

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