Annals of Annoying Students

by Kieran Healy on May 9, 2007

Via “Unfogged”:, a “hall of fame note”: from a student:

Dear Prof. AWB,

I was in your British Literature class in the fall of 2006, and for that class, you gave me a grade of C. I need to have a better grade for this class. As far as I know, I got an 86 on the first paper, and I didn’t complete the second assignment. I don’t know what I got on the final essay or exam.

I would like for you to change my grade to at least a B. If this means I must complete the second assignment, I will attempt to set aside time to do so. Please address this matter immediately.

Thank you,

Bwahahaha! Actually, just this morning a colleague got an email from a student saying that he would “try to set aside time” to take the final (the time for which has been posted on the University’s website all year).

I guess I could be offended..

by Eszter Hargittai on May 9, 2007

.. but actually I find this pretty funny:

Funny ad

(From yesterday’s Bay area NYTimes.)

Thanks (if that’s the right word) to Dan Hardie for sending me to this dispiriting item on a new City Academy in Peterborough:

Britain’s most expensive state school is being built without a playground because those running it believe that pupils should be treated like company employees and do not need unstructured play time.
The authorities at the £46.4m Thomas Deacon city academy in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, due to open this autumn, also believe that the absence of a playground will avoid the risk of “uncontrollable” numbers of children running around in breaks at the 2,200-pupil school.

If you think children don’t need unstructured playtime you need to get out of the business of schooling. If your school is so big that the numbers of children would be uncontrollable when they are in unstructured play then your school is too big! (Long promised post on school size in works, honest).


[Pupils] will be able to hydrate during the learning experience

What a relief.

Americans: don’t gloat, it’s happening here too.

The Octopi and the Ocean

by John Holbo on May 9, 2007

Gentlemen, in the 1960’s, representations of octopi in comics often bordered on the faintly ridiculous.


Having lately received my handsome copy of The Octopi and the Ocean [click through for preview], I am happy to report that the contemporary situation is much improved.


“One day, two monogamously dedicated archaeological octopi recovered an ancient artifact from the timeless ocean floor. The artifact was the power of true marriages. When activated by an inseparable pair, the two would be endowed with a certain unstoppable positive energy.” In the event, a small boy is called upon to etc. etc.

Here’s an interview with the author: “It’s actually the fastest thing I’ve ever done, other than some stuff I did faster.”

If PZ Myers doesn’t have a copy, he really should order one.

Category Mistake?

by Harry on May 9, 2007

Jeff Weintraub says this is not a parody.


by John Holbo on May 9, 2007

And the nominations for ‘best performance as a concern troll of the week’ go to – aw, hell with it. I clicked a link, taking me to this Michael Medved column. Don’t get me started. But then I did actually go to find the Rasmussen results he was citing. They are here:

Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.

Republicans reject that view and, by a 7-to-1 margin, say the President did not know in advance about the attacks. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 18% believe the President knew and 57% take the opposite view.

Back to Medved: he is wringing his hands about the Dem numbers. But it is actually quite astonishing that 1 in 8 Republicans are, by implication, supporters of an organization that they believe significantly sponsors terrorism, since it sponsors Bush. (Knowing in advance and doing nothing would be aiding and abetting, at best, I take it.) By contrast, presumably the 35% of Dems who think Bush was in the know at least disapprove of the 9/11 attacks?

The meta point here is that I never post about numbers stuff because I have no expertise. It seems to me it is always the case that at least 20% of respondents have very strange views, or must have failed to understand the question, or – perhaps most likely of all – were taking the occasion of being asked the question to vent angrily.

What do you make of these poll numbers?

UPDATE: It seems like a significant problem with the question that ‘incompetently failed to act on warnings about the possibility of’ could be construed as ‘knew about in advance’.