jeweled platypus


friday, february 25, 2005
The other kind of apple sticker

my collection of the little stickers you find on apples

I eat half an apple as part of my lunch on school days. One time, I noticed that my apple’s sticker had a tiny leaf on its side. A few days later, another apple had a little non-sticky tab on the side of its sticker, solving the problem of sticker residue. The tab was neat but sort of weird-looking. My conclusion: they should make that little leaf into a tab.

Today, an apple in the kitchen had a sticker that was even better. The bottom of the little apple on the logo was a tab — no odd arrows or weird protrusions. But the apple-shaped tab was harder to grab than the rounded ones. I have yet to find the ultimate apple sticker.

you are a blogger > you follow the strange trends of the blog world > you have a boring moleskine & you post about your lunch > you post things from your moleskine > you post boring things from your moleskine about your lunch

On the ten-minute walk to school: the smell of Burger King, a dozen iPods, homeless men, a woman hula-hooping, firetrucks getting washed, graffiti that dripped before it dried, a fountain that smells like chlorine, coupons for Togo’s sandwiches, and a lot of very noisy traffic.

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More stupid school things

In AP English today, my teacher had us write a timed short essay. This is the only kind of essay we write. But hey, it was cool — we hardly ever write at all. The prompt, from memory:

“When one has no one, nowhere else one can go.” Who said this? Discuss the context of the quote and how it affects/relates to Raskolnikov’s life.

(The homework was to have finished Crime and Punishment by today.)

Two problems. The quote is on page 24 of the novel. The books is 542 pages long and I finished it last week. Am I going to remember a short piece of dialogue from page 24? No, especially because that quote does not appear in our book. We have a different translation and instead Marmeladov says, “‘Yet if you do not go to him, you have nowhere else to go!’”

That is not nearly as poetic or important-sounding as the teacher’s quote.

rawr. So I pretended it was in another part of the book and wrote about that. After class, I conferred with a few of the other students and none of them remembered it, either — not even the one who had only read up to page 95 by yesterday. But I didn’t think twice because the only thing I have learned from this class is that I do not read carefully enough.

The 35-minute essay was all we did during an 80-minute class period.

Update 2/25/05 21:52: I asked him about it later and he said “It’s so I can see your thought process. You could pretty much put the quote anywhere in the novel.” And I got a good grade. Indignation for nothing!

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saturday, february 12, 2005
Footnotes where they don’t belong

I want to read more newspaper articles with footnotes. I want to see where every fact comes from and which sentences are reasoned conclusions. I want to see whether the journalist used ten sources or five. I want to know which sources they would have liked to use but couldn’t contact. I want to know when an article is mostly first-hand knowledge. I want to know how they found out about this middle-aged guy who sleeps with his favorite pillow.

This is not because I distrust journalists or because I’m suspicious of newspaper bias. I want to learn better ways to write my own articles. It’s pretty hard to decide between sources and integrate interviews and background material; some examples would be nice. This is also so I can better judge the quality of an article. Why do I take their word for it when I don’t have to?

Wikipedia’s footnote drive made me think about this. Why should I trust an encyclopedia? There are no pure primary or pure secondary sources. Reputation isn’t enough.

I’d also like a declaration of the writer’s relationship to the article’s subject. But they do this in features sometimes and it’s awkward (I don’t care why you love potatoes and cheese), so maybe it would be even more awkward in a real story.

Further reading: Footnotes as context for pop culture. Hyperlinks are the new footnotes. A lesson in attribution and sourcing.

When my sisters and I were little, we had plenty of drawing paper (“Rob paper”): boxes and boxes of dissertation drafts from my dad and his aspiring-professor friends. They had one blank side and one typewritten side. One day, I found a page that said “Footnotes:” and had a big blank space, so I traced my foot on it. My parents thought this was very funny.

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thursday, february 10, 2005
Smirking is good for you

My 1994-era Health class textbook is full of awful ’80s stock photos and misguided features about alternative medicine. Here are selected scans and some quotes from a critical review of the book and an overwrought condemnation of its “Cultural Diversity” sections:

in the words of my friend: cool guy, wanna-be cool girl, token, geek, bitch, and token girl
The peach is actually neon orange, but my scanner is old.

uh...say no to drugs, kids

Let me acknowledge immediately that Holt Health is not the first health text to be written by charlatans, nor is it the first to use falsity, unsupported claims and double-talk to sell superstition and quackery. But I can’t recall any earlier book that endorsed the utterly nonsensical notions that are promoted in Holt Health, nor can I recall any earlier book that tried so hard to confuse and deceive the student. The Holt writers have gone to unprecedented lengths in their efforts to attack rationality and to undermine the student’s ability to think rationally about biomedical matters.


On page 476 the writers make a claim that is deceptive: “. . . the truth is that many teenagers are not sexually active.” But that vague statement has no quantitative meaning, and it is not an accurate representation of the quantitative information that we actually have in hand: Of the teenagers who stay in school, some 70% are sexually active by the time they are in the 12th grade. When Holt’s writers make their claim about “the truth,” they are not being truthful at all. They are promoting wishful thinking as if it were fact, and they are misrepresenting an important aspect of life among today’s teenaged population. Students will know this.

Bonus: showerdude!

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thursday, february 03, 2005
the turtle-frog that wasn’t

a toy turtle from mexico and its friends

have some magnetic frog cannon with your almost-friday photo.

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I’m Britta Gustafson.

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