South Park Self

his answer trickled through my head like water in a sieve

There is a peculiar trait of students and their parents which (among, alas, many) is beginning to seriously annoy me. Sometimes I receive queries about applying as a transfer student. These emails usually ask, in broad, general terms, how one sets about applying as a transfer student, and whether or not credits from another institution will be transferred. I am not an admissions consultant: I know damned well that the only actual place my direct email address is available on the web is on the sidebar of the long, detailed page on which I outline the exact process for applying as a transfer student and transferring credits. This means that they've found the page, completely ignored the information it contains, fixated on the email address, and emailed me directly for, effectively, a personalised digest of all the TL;DR they can't be bothered to assimilate.

Since I put the damned page up precisely so that I don't have to repeat myself umpteen times in emails, this narks me off more than somewhat. I am becoming very good at a terse, pseudo-polite reply which pretends that they've never seen the page in question and directs them to it with an invitation to email me with any specific questions which are not answered by that page. I devoutly hope this annoys them no end. But I'm not sure if the whole little charade says sad and derogatory things about the nature of students, the nature of media society and its short attention span, or about human nature in general. I am dismally inclined to suspect the latter.

I am in Week 3 of The 'Flu Bug From Hell, which laughs off anti-biotics (I knew we'd start seeing resistant strains sooner or later. We're all doomed.) and which is in its particularly disgusting snuffly stage, this morning with a side order of pounding sinus headache. Words cannot express how boring this whole thing is. Fortunately it's Friday and I'm working at home; also, I console myself, as is traditional, with linkery.

  • This is an excessively beautiful series of designs for ballgowns based on the superhero costumes from the Avengers, circa the recent movie. Inventive, sensitive, wholly appealing.

  • This is a particularly cogent, intelligent and well-balanced analysis of the status of reproduction in our society, and the conceptual problems it presents. It's written by a philosopher, so has that lovely incisiveness of argument. I find it very sane.

  • This is Ursula Le Guin talking about the illusionary nature of genre and the stupid status differences accorded "genre" and "literary" texts. She's a wise lady.
  • Current Mood: blank a bit ded
  • Current Music: The Strokes, This Is It
thank you!
I am enjoying the procreation article... but link broken! I googled
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/think-before-you-breed/
and that one works. :)
Re: thank you!
see below re apology for dodgy link, was trying to balance blogging with working and not moving head too much because of the headache, and was consequently insufficiently meticulous. I did think of you when I was reading the article :>.
Crikey, that is annoying! I'd agree that it's a symptom of human nature, but I suspect particularly so in this place and time. We haven't always been this gormless, and I suspect in other parts of the world the proportion of people who expect their arse to be wiped for them is significantly lower.

I had some trouble with the NYT link but found the article. Thank you. It was refreshing to read an opinion other than "OMG, you want to have kids?! That's so evil!" which seems to have featured strongly of late amongst the articles I've come across on this topic.

Excuse my pedantry, but I feel compelled to point out that ABs are useless against viral lurgies such as flu. If you've been prescribed such, it's probably to tackle an opportunistic attack by something bacterial going for your compromised sinuses. I hope you feel better soon. And have a great weekend :)
aargh, sorry about the link-kipple, I copied the NYT link across from my Delicious page and managed to leave a bunch of their weird link code when I edited it. It's a beautifully argued and balanced piece, isn't it?

It's always something bloody bacterial in my sinuses. Bacterial and cthulhoid. Today's sinus headache has been the spike-through-the-temple variety. Cuss, spit.
Yes, it is an excellent piece. My only quibble, and it's a teeny one, is that she illustrated it with examples from the freak end of the spectrum (Octomom). YMMV, but I'm more persuaded by everyday examples rather than tabloid fodder. She cleverly chose the word 'dramatised', however, so I let it slide ;)
Actually, with regards to this the comments are for once very interesting. While there are some extremely unthinking "it's a biological urge you shouldn't think about it!" burbles, there are also a couple of exactly the kind of examples you want, random people who had a kid or two and admit they really shouldn't have. There's also someone making exactly your point about Octomom, and then agreeing that the writer was acknowledging that it's an extreme and non-representational example. NYT seems to attract reasonably non-troglodytic commenters :>.

Hm. I have to be the lone complainer here, I found that article highly annoying, for reasons nicely summed in Feministe comments here. http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/06/18/think-before-babies/
Briefly: arrogant assumption that people *don't* think very carefully about the decision; conflation of "people don't think" with "people think differently than I do"; etc. The extreme cases of Octomom/Duggans damage the argument more than a teeny bit. These people are making very conscious choices to have (many, many) kids, which is pretty much the opposite of "eh, we had kids because that's what one does, right?"

I also don't quite agree with the base assumption that having 10 kids is intrinsically less ethical than having 2. (Environmental issues aside, because they don't form part of her argument.) Big families are completely different to small ones. No, those kids won't get the same one-on-one parental attention, but they will have plenty of other relationships, a very different childhood experience. There will be less money to spread around, but are we seriously arguing that wealth = wellbeing? I don't think you can automatically assume that one family is better than the other.

(My dad came from a traditional Catholic family - 7 kids, plus one adopted later, plus various hangers-on at different times, all welcome. I can't imagine having such a family myself but to some extent, I've always admired and enjoyed the big, messy warmth of it.)
in my humble opinion,
(Anonymous)
environmental issues can never be put aside when dealing with this subject, which the author of the article carefully side-stepped. 9 billion and counting is as good a reason as any to think very hard indeed.

dee
Re: in my humble opinion,
I actually do agree with you - but was trying to engage with the original argument on its own terms, and since eco issues haven't been taken into account there, I wasn't going to start. But I do agree. (7 billion, not 9, but that's a detail.)

In fact despite my comment, I have major reservations about large families. But a lot of that is very personal - the fact that I couldn't bear it ("bear" being a very pertinent word) shouldn't *necessarily* mean that it isn't the right choice for someone else. Except there's that whole population thing, and, yowch.
Re: in my humble opinion,
(Anonymous)
eeep, yes, 7... i may have been projecting a few years into the future of the planet, if there is a future :D
Completely separately, btw, I find it fascinating that people choose to email rather than read the web page. I'm the opposite. I'll spend aaaaages hunting around a website trying to get my questions answered, resorting to email only as a last resort. Desperate introversion or mistrust that anyone actually answers email? You decide...