See You in Hell

26 Apr 2015 /
Satan

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Greetings from the underworld!

I see that Pope Francis put a bee in Turkey’s bonnet a couple of weeks ago by calling the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 a genocide. According to the Turks, the Vatican should look to its own history before casting stones. Tu quoque!

On that note, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography was just awarded to David I. Kertzer for The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe. Historically, popes have been far more circumspect in condemning genocide and other atrocities when committed by countries willing to aggrandize the Church (or when committed by the Church itself!)

See you in Hell, clerics of all stripes . . .

Clerics


Teaching Computer Science: Lesson Planning

24 Apr 2015 /

It’s exhausting work . . .


The Chaste Song of My Heart

24 Apr 2015 /

I work a lot and live far less than I could, but the moon is beautiful and there are blue stars . . . . I live the chaste song of my heart.

— Garcia Lorca to Emilia Llanos Medinor, November 25, 1920

Teaching Computer Science: Ask More Questions

20 Apr 2015 /
Primary School in "open air"...

English: Primary School in “open air”, in Bucharest, around 1842. Wood engraving, 11x22cm

You need to ask more questions. I think there’s a general fear about asking questions. There’s a risk of looking foolish in front of the whole group when it turns out that everyone else already knows the answer.

It’s actually very unusual for someone to ask a question to which everyone else knows the answer. If you find it happens to you a lot, you probably want to get that checked out, but normally it’s very unusual.

Another scenario: Somebody, maybe a teacher, says something and you think “That doesn’t make sense. I wonder if it makes sense to everyone else. Rather than risk looking foolish in front of the whole group, I’ll wait and see if someone else asks a question.”

So you wait for someone to ask a question and no one asks a question. Why? Because they’re all waiting for someone to ask a question.

Many people, including teachers, are not good at organizing their thoughts and articulating them with precision and that’s why you can’t understand what they’re saying. Don’t assume that it’s a problem with you. You need to move people to a position of clarity by asking questions.

Also, people love the person who’s willing to ask questions because it relieves them of the need to ask questions.

Education, like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Don’t sit in a class with unanswered questions in your head and let everything wash over you like a tidal wave.

My own kid, even in a good school district, I don’t feel like he got a good education because of good teachers, I feel like he got a good education in spite of bad teachers. He got a good education because he put a lot into it and he got a lot out of it. And his classmates who got a good education did so because they put a lot into it and they got a lot out of it.

All of which is a long way of saying “ask more questions.”

Any questions?


How Are You?

19 Apr 2015 /

I’m getting old . . . mentally and physically I can’t do things that I used to be able to do and I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

Thanks for asking . . .


RIP, Planet Earth

16 Apr 2015 /

According to the Time 100, that guy from the Hangover movies is one of the most influential people in the world . . .

Bradley Cooper


Cheryl’s Birthday

15 Apr 2015 /

My mistake is when someone asks my birthday, I either tell them or I don’t so I’m dismayed to find that the key to world-wide fame is to tell one person the month and another person the day . . .

Cheryl's birthday


Teaching Computer Science: Extra Credit

15 Apr 2015 /

I wish I got a dollar for every time a student asks, “Can I get extra credit for [insert action for which it makes no sense to give extra credit]?”

Today in class we did a difficult programming exercise. It wasn’t graded but I asked everyone to turn it in so I could evaluate the difficulty of the assignment.

“Can we get extra credit for turning it in?” a student asked me.

“How does it make sense to give extra credit for turning it in? Everyone is turning it in.”

“It raises everyone’s grades,” he said. “Like a rising tide lifts all boats.”


Mysterious Ways

15 Apr 2015 /

Headline

Family killed

Whenever I see headlines like this I wonder why God couldn’t find an atheist family to drop a concrete slab on. The infant, whose shirt appears to say KING JESUS, was also killed.


Janis Joplin – Ball & Chain

14 Apr 2015 /

I can’t imagine anyone ever left a Janis Joplin concert thinking, “I didn’t get my money’s worth. She didn’t put anything into it.” That looks like Cass Elliot mouthing “oh my god” at the end . . .


10 Seconds is Too Long

14 Apr 2015 /

“Starts working within 10 seconds.” Ten seconds seems like a long time in 2015. It should start working in 10 nanoseconds.

Cyanide works within 10 seconds . . . coincidence?

Starts working in 10 seconds


Learn How to Get a Man From a Woman With 14 Husbands

9 Apr 2015 /

Woman Married 14 Men

Bobbi Ann House

My first thought was that this woman should write a book. There are a lot of books out there about how to get a man, how to get a husband . . . how does one assess the credibility of the advice?

Normally a woman who’s markedly overweight and doesn’t have a single attractive feature can’t even get a date, let alone alone a husband, and yet this woman’s had 14 of them! How does she do it?! Who wouldn’t like to know her secret? I would!

Paste her grinning mug on the cover — the woman with 14 husbands! — and the book sells itself. Her upcoming jail term should give her plenty of time to write it.


Global Warming is Starting to Affect Me Personally

8 Apr 2015 /

We have two refrigerators at the office and neither one of them is dispensing any ice this afternoon. The ice dispensers make a noise but no ice is to be had.

Is this due to global warming? I’ve been skeptical about the effects of global warming until today, when it started to affect me personally . . .


The Last Straw

7 Apr 2015 /

http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2015/04/100-year-old_man_killed_sleeping_wife_with_axe_fat.html

It’s never just one thing. Incidents accumulate over time.

We’d all murder our spouses if we lived long enough . . .


Don’t Go Upstairs

6 Apr 2015 /

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — When Bridget Winch went to parties at Kappa Delta Rho, she observed one rule: Never go upstairs.

That merits a feature article in the Washington Post? She’s the only woman who’s figured that out? If I had a daughter, I’d like to think she’d have at least that much sense, maybe a little more.

Here’s another idea: go upstairs and blame whatever happens on the fraternity, the fraternity system and our entire American society.

Or if nothing happens, make something up.

Related articles


Teaching Computer Science: Combating Procrastination

6 Apr 2015 /

Students had a project due last week and I got a lot of messages and emails asking for help. Of course, when we handed out the assignment two months ago, we advised students not to wait till the last minute to work on it. Teachers and parents saying “Don’t wait till the last minute” is just an understood part of the process. It’s something that gets said but it’s background noise.

A couple of alternatives occur to me:

  1. Reverse psychology. Say “My advice is to start as late as possible. Try to do two months of work in the last week, or better yet, the last night.” This seems too easy to see through and therefore unlikely to work.
  2. Hand out the 20-page spec and tell the students that it’s due tomorrow. WHAT!? YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! NOBODY COULD DO THIS IN ONE DAY! “You’re right. It’s actually due in two months. But now that we’ve agreed that it can’t be done in one day, I don’t want to see anyone working on it at the last minute.”

Doing What I Wanted To

5 Apr 2015 /

I’m just doing what I wanted to and what feels right and not settling for bullshit and it worked. How can they be mad at that?

— Janis Joplin

Teaching Computer Science: The Last Minute

1 Apr 2015 /

“Reminder that your projects are due tomorrow so don’t wait till the last minute. Oh wait, this is the last minute.”

Deadlines can be fun when they apply to other people . . .


Happy Birthday, Vincent van Gogh

30 Mar 2015 /
Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard,...

Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard, 42 × 33.7 cm., Art Institute of Chicago

Vincent van Gogh was born on this date in 1853. He was poor and virtually unknown throughout his life and after years of anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to his brother, his last words were “The sadness will last forever.” Although he would have said it in Dutch.

You can’t say enough great things about this guy. He’s one of the most renowned painters in the history of the world, one of the most recognizable painters, his work is in all the best art museums. If you want to own a van Gogh, get ready to pay $100 million. That’s for one painting.

His life at the time he was living it must have looked quite pointless to everyone including himself, nothing but suffering and failure. And yet, as it turns out, his life has meant a million times more to the world than anyone could have possibly imagined. So you never know.

The van Gogh self-portrait above is at the Art Institute of Chicago. As it happens, I’ve visited the Art Institute of Chicago . . . one of the things I remember about it is seeing a museum guide with a tour group and the painting they were standing in front of was this:

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled, not dated, Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5 cm (38 x 38 in.)

I couldn’t hear what the guide was saying but usually with works like this it’s some nonsense about challenging contemporary perceptions about art and the process of creation.

There’s some crazy stuff in art museums. Here’s another painting by the same person:

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled, not dated, Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5 cm (38 x 38 in.)

In case you’re thinking “Very funny, that’s the same picture,” it’s not. If you look at them very closely, you can see that they’re not the same. I don’t attribute that to any artistic merit or even intention on the part of the painter, just that if you take two canvases and paint them gray, they’re bound to be less than identical in some way.

The man who painted those gray squares will never go insane or cut off his own ear or shoot himself. Why? Because he couldn’t care less. He takes identical canvases and paints them gray. That’s what he does.

If van Gogh saw some of the stuff that’s hanging in art museums today, he wouldn’t be able to stop throwing up.

Happy Birthday, Vincent!


Why Do I Need Clean Pennies?

26 Mar 2015 /

Clean pennies


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