Quantcast

«

»

May 02 2012

Almost there

I gave my last lecture to my cancer class. Tomorrow is the last day of my introductory biology class, which will consist of a mini-lecture on one last concept, returning exams and reviewing them, and the student evaluation of the class, which I don’t participate in. Easy.

I sit now in the wreckage of my office, papers piled around me, with more papers coming in imminently, and face the next challenge: grading like a madman. My pocket bristles with red pens. The first stack is to my right: I go to hide in some quiet place and slash and tear. Do not disturb me while the bloodlust is high and the aggravation puts me on the threshold of berserkerdom.

(Ah, they were a pretty good bunch of students this semester. I’ll try not to be too savage.)

51 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    shouldbeworking

    I’m in the same position. I hope my students don’t attempt to redesign the laws of physics in their own image again.

    Good luck. I’m now entering my Cave of Solitude. Enter at your own risk.

  2. 2
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Oh, have fun! I sometimes use red for real mistakes and green for suggestions for improvement. Then the pages aren’t quite so dripping with alarming tints.

  3. 3
    Nerdette

    Oo oo! Grading aggravation thread! Yay! I am in the same boat. My red pencil has been whittled down to less than five cm.

    I told my students weeks ago that every time they say “experiment” when they really mean “observational study”, Neil deGrasse Tyson dies a little inside. Evidently I needed to use a different pop icon of science to inspire correction…

  4. 4
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    Aren’t there only 2 questions on all university exams? –
    1) Are you now a soul-less, god-hating, athiest, socialisty, leftist?
    2) Did you feel the work of Satan in this school?

    /Santorumed

  5. 5
    Rip Steakface

    Funny – at my community college right now I’m still in the dead middle of the quarter. In fact, we’ve essentially entered the daily “endurance test to the end of the day” period where nothing is due for a while yet, but the pace is picking up while the classes are still easy.

  6. 6
    lloydhoughton

    (pretening this is an open thread because no one will really want to talk about grading):

    What’s the most effective answer to this “argument”, by which I mean well-suited to dealing with the kind of idiot who’s likely to make it:

    me: “evolution blah blah blah millions of years tiny randomly-caused changes cumulative effect driven by selection pressure blah blah”
    idiot: “I just can’t see it happening–I mean could a dog turn into a squid?”
    me: “[no, but] your objection comes purely from your personal incredulity, because you’re used to shorter time spans and we evolved in ways that favour prosaic survival-related thinking etc etc”

    –later–

    me[paraphrased from kinder version]: “so you think the giant invisible sky fairy reaches down, directly intervenes somehow, all the time, causing something like evolution to occur through a gazillion personally-directed mutations? seems very unlikely!”
    idiot: NOW AREN’T YOU ARGUING FROM PERSONAL INCREDULITY?

    me: flabbergasted, something about evidence vs lack of evidence

    What’s the correct next move in this case? I guess the mistake was my going to “unlikely” instead of “no evidence”, but he thought he’d hit a home run here. How to convince the idiot that my incredulity (skepticism) is warranted, but his incredulity (closed-mindedness) is not? He’s going to claim I’m following different rules in any case.

  7. 7
    A. R

    a miasma of incandescent plasma: That’s the exit examination.

  8. 8
    Menyambal

    Hmmm …

    He’s on the edge of berserk, he’s in the middle of Minnesota, and I don’t know any of his students …

    Hey, PZ! Squids are icky!

    .

    .

    .

    Seriously, good luck to all in education. Especially to my own dear wife.

  9. 9
    Richard Smith

    For some reason, I suddenly visualized PZ as Professor Jones retreating to his boiler-room office in “The Last Crusade,” with the mob of students pressed against the frosted glass of his door. However, as far as I know, papers don’t have lips to press against the glass. That’s probably for the best.

  10. 10
    Owlmirror

    How to convince the idiot that my incredulity (skepticism) is warranted, but his incredulity (closed-mindedness) is not? He’s going to claim I’m following different rules in any case.

    He’s now making the fallacy of false equivalence. The difference is evidence, and parsimony.

    There’s evidence for evolution, and common descent. Dogs don’t give birth to squid, because the changes between generations are small. But there’s evidence that the cumulative small changes over hundreds and thousands of millions of years resulted from an ancient ancestor of both mollusks and vertebrates existing, and eventually, over that time, becoming squid and dogs, respectively.

    There’s no evidence for a giant invisible sky fairy, so there’s no evidence that a giant invisible sky fairy ever did or does magic genetic engineering. So it’s parsimonious to reject that hypothesis.

    Or in other words, in order for the hypothesis to be even close to equivalent, first there needs to be evidence for a giant invisible sky fairy, then that the giant invisible sky fairy did or does magic genetic engineering. Evidence first, hypothesis second.

  11. 11
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    For any of the trolls who are paying attention, this is when PZ is in HULK SMASH mode. If you make a mess on this blog, this is about the most likely time he will use a banhammer.

    Just a friendly warning.

  12. 12
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Same. One set of term papers and three sets of exams to grade.

    It’s funny how much of my time goes into evaluating the work of others.

  13. 13
    NoVaRunner

    Don’t you have graduate TAs to help? My daughter’s one of those and she is also in full “red pen mode.” “Dad, I have SO many papers to grade…”

  14. 14
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I have a load of marking to do, but I get it (almost) all submitted electronically and do the feedback the same way, so I haven’t used a literal red pen or had many literal piles of marking for quite a while. This is a benefit and a curse – I find it easier to mark this way, but the absence of actual piles staring me in the face makes it harder to get started, and the ease of access means I’m more tempted to work at home.

  15. 15
    DLC

    Keep a stiff upper lip, it’ll be over before you go insane . . . um, wait. how many SAN have you got left?

  16. 16
    Cipher

    Funny – at my community college right now I’m still in the dead middle of the quarter.

    Same where I am. Damn quarter system. Most of my friends are taking finals and getting excited for summer, and I’ve still got a month and a half (and a huge term paper) left!

  17. 17
    carlie

    Don’t you have graduate TAs to help?

    HA HA HA HA HA!! HA HA ha ha ha!!! Ha haha… *looks at pile of papers on desk* *downs slug of whiskey* *cries*

  18. 18
    Roving Rockhound, collector of dirt

    Finished grading finals and submitted grades very late last night. Got to work this morning to find an email from a student who missed the final, asking to have a make-up exam because she was “sick” (she’s missed almost half the semester because she was “sick” – with the sniffles). Wrote a very polite email telling her that there was no fucking way I would write a new exam when it took her 24 hours to tell me why she was gone, and she wasn’t taking the original one because it had already gone back to students.

    I’m not very nice when I feel like death, yet I’m at work and she’s missing the exam.

    And then had the first of many students come in, crying, telling me how much she studied and how sad she was that she got a D. Sniff sniff. Here, have some reality.

  19. 19
    dianne

    You’re so lucky. I’m writing part of a multi-investigator grant. We’re at the stage of writing where we all swear that every other investigator involved is a psychotic prima donna procrastinator and that the NIH’s forms were designed by the Illuminati, the trilateral commission and the teal greens in an attempt to drive us all MAD!

  20. 20
    mattandrews

    Hurry back when you’re done. Sam Harris unloaded another round of stupid in his ongoing series, “No, I’m NOT a Bigot Just Because I’m Okay With Racial Profiling.”

  21. 21
    shouldbeworking

    I had a student who excused for a major lab and wouldn’t do the make up lab. He then complained that he should be exempt from any question on the exam that dealt with the lab material. Poor baby, the world is out to get him.

  22. 22
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    dianne:

    We’re at the stage of writing where we all swear that every other investigator involved is a psychotic prima donna procrastinator and that the NIH’s forms were designed by the Illuminati, the trilateral commission and the teal greens in an attempt to drive us all MAD!

    Congratulations! This is the final step before winning! It insures that at the first Co-PI meeting, nobody can look anyone else in the eye.

    Just finished my last lecture. Where did I put those papers. Oh yes. In an enormous fucking pile right here in front of me.

  23. 23
    'Tis Himself

    I am so glad I never went into academia.

  24. 24
    mechtheist

    Best prof I ever had, and for 4 semesters of engineering calculus, never handed back a single exam, not even the final. You had to wait for the report cards. Of course many rumors floated about, especially that he never graded them, just threw them away as soon as he got back to his office.

  25. 25
    thunk: turmite city

    I still have another month left of school, and quite a few mad-rush assignments. Shouldn’t be too bad for me.

    PZ; I sympathize with your mad rush of grading.

  26. 26
    dianne

    This is the final step before winning! It insures that at the first Co-PI meeting, nobody can look anyone else in the eye.

    And the chthuloid monsters running the NIH finds those meetings the most amusing and therefore they selectively fund grants where the co-PIs have provided the most drama. I knew it!

  27. 27
    philisyssis

    @#6 lloydhoughton

    Just tell him he’s free to continue to believe what he believes. And add on to that by saying “we’ll see how useful your ideas are when you are conducting hands on scientific research.”

    I would just leave it at that. I used to be of the creationist variety and it wasn’t a one liner that convinced me otherwise, it was years of discussion and years of the evidence slowly sinking in and undoing my misunderstandings.

  28. 28
    Inaji

    philisyssis:

    I would just leave it at that.

    Take your advice and shove it, ever so gently, Cupcake. Didn’t you learn anything from your last visit?

  29. 29
    NoVaRunner

    #17 Carlie

    Are you driven to drink because graduate TAs like my daughter are rare? I’m honestly curious. They seriously work the poor girl like a rented mule.

  30. 30
    Ing

    I would just leave it at that. I used to be of the creationist variety and it wasn’t a one liner that convinced me otherwise, it was years of discussion and years of the evidence slowly sinking in and undoing my misunderstandings.

    Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure. I bet

  31. 31
    cicely

    I would just leave it at that. I used to be of the creationist variety and it wasn’t a one liner that convinced me otherwise, it was years of discussion and years of the evidence slowly sinking in and undoing my misunderstandings.

    But philisyssis, that’s only your own, personal experience. Speaking as a former creationist myself, while a one-liner didn’t save me needing the years of reading, and thinking, that it took to finally let me shake my creationist programming off, it was a one-liner (from a total stranger, yet!) that started me thinking (greatly daring) that perhaps…perhaps Xianity wasn’t handed down from God’s own Self, that perhaps the Bible wasn’t inerrant, that God wasn’t the source of all Good, and that, just perhaps, a Book writteneditted by humans from traditions passed orally, Chinese Whispers-style, down generations of pre-literate pastoralists and farmers…might not be very scientifically accurate.

    This demonstrates why a single piece of anecdata is nothing to be making graven-in-stone Rules from. People are different; their reactions are different.

    Unless lloydhoughton has personal or professional reasons why dropping the subject like a hot rock is his best bet, I see no reason to suggest that the subject should be taboo.
    -

  32. 32
    cicely

    Mean to say, some people respond well to calm, reasoned discussion…and some people need a well-ripened haddock upside the haid.
    -

  33. 33
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    and some people need a well-ripened haddock upside the haid.

    Why a good fish like a haddock?. A good inedible bottom feeder would be sufficient, and more in tune of the requirements for the attention getting usage.

  34. 34
    cicely

    Okay. Scratch the haddock, and substitute “catfish”. Though I would argue that once properly ripened, the haddock would no longer be a “good fish”.
    -

  35. 35
    Inaji

    Cicely:

    Though I would argue that once properly ripened, the haddock would no longer be a “good fish”.

    Agreed. I say Smack ‘em with a sturgeon. Or Brain ‘em with a barracuda.

  36. 36
    redwood

    Whereas here where I am on the other side of the Pacific in the land formerly known as Zipangu, the school year starts in April and goes 15 weeks until the end of July, then another 15 weeks from the middle of September to the middle of January. Causes all sorts of problems when our students want to study abroad. The University of Tokyo, the #1 school here, is planning to unilaterally switch to a fall beginning in five years, though hoping to drag some other schools along. It sure would be nice to have a unified worldwide schoolyear schedule. Why not just start on Jan. 1 everywhere? So much simpler that way.

  37. 37
    cicely

    Sturgeon. Yes.
    There’s some serious ugly, right there!
    -

  38. 38
    'Tis Himself

    Don’t be knocking sturgeons. You get caviar from from them.

  39. 39
    Inaji

    ‘Tis:

    You get caviar from from them.

    You get the caviar out, then smack ‘em.

  40. 40
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    You get the caviar out, then smack ‘em.

    Gotta love the practicality around here. But then, the best fish is for attention getting is the smackeral.

  41. 41
    cicely

    Sounds like a plan; catch ‘em, de-egg ‘em, rot ‘em, then deploy.

    This could be just what we need to ease up on the at-times-impossibly-high demand for rotting porcupines.
    -

  42. 42
    Inaji

    Cicely:

    This could be just what we need to ease up on the at-times-impossibly-high demand for rotting porcupines.

    Yes! That’s workable. Ahem…”Stuff a sturgeon up your ass, Cupcake.” Yep, it works.

  43. 43
    Menyambal

    If you want to smack the godly upside the head with a fish, the catfish may be best. See, catfish have no scales, and the bible clearly states that only sea creatures with fins and scales are edible.

    Some argue that it means both fins AND scales on the same critter, some say that it means at least one of fins or scales. Oysters and squids are definitely out, catfish are theologically debatable—for those who don’t just ignore the whole issue. (I do love to see a Baptist church hosting a catfish fry.)

    Smack the fellow on the earhole with a catfish, then ask him if it is okay for him to eat it.

  44. 44
    philisyssis

    Caine, what’s wrong with my advice? You think that telling someone to actually try their creationist views with hands on research wouldn’t have an effect on them when they actually tried to put it into practice?

    Oh nevermind, you’re not looking for a real conversation, you’re just trolling me. HAHA good one.

  45. 45
    Weedless Monkey

    philisyssis

    You think that telling someone to actually try their creationist views with hands on research wouldn’t have an effect on them when they actually tried to put it into practice?

    No one’s holding you back, go ahead and do it your way. That’s undoubtedly more fruitful than complaining how others are telling the truth in a way you don’t prefer.

  46. 46
    philisyssis

    Weed monkey,

    It’s not really about my preference being the best way, it’s one possibility. It really depends on the person being spoken to. Maybe the advice in post 31 would work better in this case, and maybe not. I’m just throwing an idea out there for lloydhoughton to consider and he can decide what would work best in this case given the fact that he knows the individual the best.

  47. 47
    dianne

    Smack ‘em with a sturgeon then smack ‘em with Sturgeon’s law.

  48. 48
    Richard Smith

    If a piscine replacement for the porcupine is sought, perhaps a puffer fish would do? Deceptively simple insertion then, phoomp!, surprisingly difficult removal.

  49. 49
    Inaji

    philisyssis:

    Caine, what’s wrong with my advice?

    Everything. You are a hypocrite, a liar and a coward who swims in logical fallacies for comfort. You’re an idiot who clings to the No True Scotsman fallacy like it was a matter of life and death, you’re an idiot who thinks it’s alright to claim that believing in a bible verse you like cancels out the icky ones you don’t like.

    You hang onto christianity with a death grip, Cupcake and you shove your fingers into your ears and scream “lalalalalalala” at the top of your voice to avoid reality.

    Absolutely none of this qualifies you to dispense advice. You’re free to prove your “method” works – go out and magically make all the xians change their mind! We’ll wait. We know what works here, we know multiple approaches work. We don’t need your stupid ass advice, because what you really want is for atheists to stay the fuck away from the nice xians.

    Now, here’s a thought – go back to the thread where you were being shredded and answer the fucking questions posed to you, little cowardly Cupcake. Or are you going to resort to the tactic of claiming to be “playing with us” again?

    Shorter words for you: You lack a brain, so shut up. Ta.

  50. 50
    philisyssis

    Everything. You are a hypocrite, a liar and a coward who swims in logical fallacies for comfort. You’re an idiot who clings to the No True Scotsman fallacy like it was a matter of life and death, you’re an idiot who thinks it’s alright to claim that believing in a bible verse you like cancels out the icky ones you don’t like.

    You hang onto christianity with a death grip, Cupcake and you shove your fingers into your ears and scream “lalalalalalala” at the top of your voice to avoid reality.

    Absolutely none of this qualifies you to dispense advice. You’re free to prove your “method” works – go out and magically make all the xians change their mind! We’ll wait. We know what works here, we know multiple approaches work. We don’t need your stupid ass advice, because what you really want is for atheists to stay the fuck away from the nice xians.

    Now, here’s a thought – go back to the thread where you were being shredded and answer the fucking questions posed to you, little cowardly Cupcake. Or are you going to resort to the tactic of claiming to be “playing with us” again?

    Shorter words for you: You lack a brain, so shut up. Ta.

    That was a very interesting word salad that threw up there but I just ate so I’m not hungry anymore.

    When you actually have a reasonable criticism of the advice I gave then let us know you are willing to actually try to contribute to the conversation. I doubt that will happen though, having seen other comments of yours in other threads you just like to try to shred people because it makes you feel big and important. You’re actually still hung up on a conversation from a comment section in a blog from a week ago. The rest of us have moved on because we are adults, I suggest for you mental health that you go and seek professional advice about your mental illness.

    I’m not playing with you, it was a possible approach that could be taken to the situation. Actually trying to get creationists to apply their ideas to real life situations will end up stumping them. This is obviously all new to you so I’ll just leave it there and after you barf some more words onto this forum I’ll explain a little more to you Cupcake.

  51. 51
    carlie

    NoVaRunner – I work at a place with no graduate science degreees, therefore no source for TAs.

Comments have been disabled.