October 31, 2007

Subtle differences

Here is an advertisement that has been getting a lot of airtime on New Zealand television (YouTube embedding disallowed, you'll have to click through, but it's worth it). I point to this ad as an example of the kind of subtle differences between New Zealand and the United States. I don't think you'd see an ad like this in the United States. Now, admittedly it is the American car manufacturers who can only sell cars with reference to scenery, children asleep in minivans, cash rebates and finance terms. The foreign car ads in the United States are more innovative. But even the foreign ads often focus on the car. The connection between the car and the advertisement in "New Lancer, New Life" is subtle, at best. But funny.

Posted by eroberts at 9:13 AM

October 14, 2007

For no other reason than that I can

the lounge in the Virgin Blue terminal in Melbourne Airport is well worth the price of admission for four quiet hours between flights (photo taken with PhotoBooth on the laptop)

Posted by eroberts at 9:01 AM

October 11, 2007

Bad apples or bad apple pickers?

Although historians should not be in the business of prediction, I'm going to predict that this column in the Chronicle of Higher Education will generate outrage. A sample:

Working with graduate students is not all it's cracked up to be ....graduate school too often brings out the worst in students -- and, by extension, in faculty members as well....I should have been investing my effort in my own scholarly career rather than helping those who ultimately didn't deserve the help and, more important, didn't respect the life that they themselves claimed they wanted.... What is frustrating is the apparent deceit of would-be scholars enticing you to help them become the field's next superstar, only to discover that it was all bluster and empty talk....What's sad about all of those cases is that the students have lost sight of the real purpose of graduate education: to become a scholar and a teacher whose expertise will make a difference in their field of study, in students' lives, and in the world....It's not that every one of my graduate students has been a disappointment, or that they all exhibited the same boorish behavior that I describe here. I have fond memories of my time with many of them....But the truth is that, for me, the bad apples have spoiled the whole barrel.

Wow, remind me again about that time a columnist in the Chronicle warned people off blogging because people became intemperate on the internet! I don't really expect the Chronicle's columnists to be consistent over time. People have different views after all. My point, however, is that the psuedonymous forum of the Chronicle removes all the important readers from some people's shoulders and unhinges them.

I imagine that mentoring graduate students is not magic or perfect. I also imagine that some of the structural factors the author identifies as turning out bad apples really do exist, and that some people behave badly when they're trying to get ahead. But I do wonder if this author's bad experience with graduate students reflects more on their inability to judge character. As usual, the whole point of a Chronicle first person column is to relate dashed expectations, and the fall from idealism. I can understand the desire to write such a column, working through the fall, but it's not clear to me that the reader gains so much from pseudonymous overstatement and a narrative structure that sets the author out to be initially naive, but now experienced.

Posted by eroberts at 11:00 PM

October 9, 2007

Road relay

One of the great things about New Zealand running (inherited from Britain) is the road relay. Varied and undulating road running through beautiful countryside. As you can see from the video it can be a lonely experience as a race, since your only competition might be going much faster or slower than you. All you have to run against is the reflective markers on the side of the roads. But there's plenty of support (from your own team) and abuse (from your competition) from the sidelines. Being spring, the headwind is constant even on a loop course.

This year I was in the Wellington Scottish C-team, and though we were a few minutes out of a medal in our grade we had fun. Good running. Sheep in the paddocks. Beer afterwards. What more do you need?

Posted by eroberts at 5:02 PM

October 3, 2007

Variable weather in New Zealand

What counts for major temperature fluctuations in New Zealand.

Temperatures fluctuated between 8C (45F) and 16C (62F).

To be fair, the clothes needed at 8 and 16 can be quite different. But this is not Minnesota temperature variation.

Posted by eroberts at 3:48 PM