Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Universities Tighten Rules on Faculty-Student Relationships: interesting dilemma. It seems to me that rules that completely prohibit relationships between faculty and students, such as the one at UC, go too far. The several examples of happy marriages beginning with such relationships are compelling counterexamples to the argument that they are always "wrong." Clearly, these relationships represent conflicts of interest to the professor, who should be forced to recuse him/herself from evaluations related to the student, etc. However, rules that go beyond enforcing these recusals are on shaky ground, especially the vague UC rule that only prevents relationships if the professor is or may "reasonably expect" to be in an authority position over the student. One could argue that since most professor-student relationships do not work out well, these more restrictive rules help to protect students. However, even if data exists to substantiate that assertion, we could just as easily ban all kinds of relationships with a low probability of success by the same reasoning. College students are old enough to be trusted to decide for themselves whether entering into such "high risk" relationships is a good or bad idea.
I just found out that someone has actually read my blog. Woohoo! I feel a little more obligated to update this thing with some regularity now...and to spruce it up a bit. I continue to have work for the class I am TAing piled up on me. I just finished notes for our discussion sections on Wednesday. Hopefully things will lighten up soon, because I need to make some time to polish up a paper that was recently rejected from a conference, for resubmission in November. For the previous deadline, I basically ate, slept, worked on the paper, and did nothing else for the span of three weeks. I learned a lot, but in some ways it was rather unpleasant. Let's hope I don't have to repeat that experience.

In other news, my first New Yorker finally came in the mail last Thursday. What a fun magazine to read; Thursdays will be a day to look forward to from now on. I'm through Decalogue 6 now, and none of them have been a letdown. I saw Sex and Lucia with Martin the other night (the R-rated version that Blockbuster carried unfortunately). It was an interesting film, but it kind of dragged toward the end, maybe because we were getting tired. Ooh, and Mahler 4 last Thursday was amazing; if these SF Symphony Mahler recordings didn't cost $25 a pop, I'd have all of them by now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Nice article on andante about BBC Radio 3, their classical station. As a fairly serious classical music listener, I'd love to have a radio station that catered to my tastes (Andante Radio was fantastic but it is no longer free), but I realize that such a station would not appeal to most people. The question is, should my tastes be partially funded by other taxpayers, as they are in the UK with BBC? I don't know; perhaps the money would be better spent on music lessons and education for children. I strongly believe it would enrich their lives, and perhaps they'll be hooked enough that they would be motivated to privately fund such a station. In any case, I can listen to BBC Radio 3 over the Internet, so the problem is partially solved for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

cs164 is such a timesink. I never realized what an incredible burden teaching can be until now. I spent much of the day working on the next programming assignment for the students. The thing is, these assignments aren't even all that easy for me...I guess that's the point of actually doing the assignments before giving them out, though. It would suck worse to find out that a problem you assigned is super hard right before the deadline. I need to do the written homework tomorrow so I can answer questions in my office hour on Monday...*sigh*.

I went to see Key Largo with my friend Martin at the Parkway Theater in Oakland today. What a cool space! It was great lounging out on a sofa with a pizza while watching the movie. The film itself was kind of disappointing...not as noirish as we were expecting. But, it had its moments, and any movie w/ Bogart can't be all bad. Martin hadn't seen Wet Hot American Summer before, so I saw it for the eighth time (at least); still hasn't gotten old at all.

It's time for me to start getting back into musical stuff. I'm going to Mahler 4 at the SF Symphony this Thursday, and I'd like to also get in on Wednesday if possible for The Magic Flute. I ran into Christian at the grocery store yesterday, and he convinced me to audition for the Oakland Symphony Chorus. It looks like a lot of fun, and they might actually be pretty good. Oh, and there's still the whole private lessons thing that I should start up again. Things will be much happier once I am singing again...

I've been slowly working my way through The Decalogue. It's weird how after every film, I feel like I didn't really understand it, yet I know I just saw something amazing. Hopefully the quality will stay high through the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Check out Dahlia Lithwick's analysis on Slate of the court decision to postpone the recall. Even though the recall is a travesty, I'd honestly rather have it over with instead of dealing with this circus until March. I have no confidence that the election will be any more fair or less contested if it is delayed; given that it will happen eventually, let's just get this ridiculous election over with ASAP and try to move on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Cool article on music and evolution today in the New York Times. Relevant quote: "Dr. Miller sees music as an excellent indicator of fitness in the Darwinian struggle for survival. Since music draws on so many of the brain's faculties, it vouches for the health of the organ as a whole. And since music in ancient cultures seems often to have been linked with dancing, a good fitness indicator for the rest of the body, anyone who could sing and dance well was advertising the general excellence of their mental and physical genes to a potential mate." Nice :-). I also heard about some of this on NPR a while ago: Origins of Music May Lie in Speech.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Paul Krugman lucidly explains The Tax-Cut Con in this week's New York Times Magazine. Let's just hope more people understand the consequences of these tax cuts, before the country described in Section 7 becomes a reality.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

GreenCine Daily is a really great blog on film; lots links to film news and also longer reviews and articles. Obviously, the guys behind this blog are also behind GreenCine itself. No wonder it's such a great rental site.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I passed my prelim!! The exam actually went reasonably well yesterday...guess all that studying paid off. Once I dig myself out from this pile of other work and errands that has accumulated, I can actually relax a bit.

I've been listening to Parsifal over the last couple of days...not seriously, just sort of in the background, trying to absorb it just a bit. The music really moves slowly (even for Wagner), but if you're in the right mindset, it feels like just the right leisurely pace. Anyway, it will take me a while to really get inside the work, but it's been promising so far.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I'll be so, so glad when this prelim is over. Other obligations from the class I'm taking and the class I'm TAing are piling up, so the sooner I get the prelim and the requisite post-prelim partying out of the way, the better.

I finally have all the Decalogue DVDs from GreenCine. I watched the first episode again on Friday (I'd seen the first two before), and it still blew me away. Yet another thing to look forward to doing after the prelim...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

First, regarding the history of the Middle East, I just remembered this great NPR feature that my brother pointed out to me a couple of months back: The Mideast : A Century of Conflict. I hope to go through the series soon and then have a clue about the history behind current events there.

I took a practice prelim today, and it went fairly well; I'm definitely glad I did it. I think deeper understanding of principles is the key goal of my studying up until next Tuesday. I can memorize a lot of stuff, but eventually I'll be asked a question that I don't immediately know the answer to, and that's when the understanding is key I think. The exam is going to be high-stress, though; looking forward to having it over with (and hopefully passing).

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

First, if you haven't already, check out Magazine Values (thanks to Tina for the pointer). Lots of cheap magazine subscriptions in exchange for occasional spam. I just ordered The New Yorker for a year for $25.

Something to add to the list of things to do after the prelim: spruce up my room! I've been living here for more than a year and the place is still totally bare. My room senior year was awesome, but since then I've been moving so much that I never put any time into the places I've been. I've been here long enough that it's time to make the place more inviting...gotta go out and search for stuff to add. Another item on the todo list is to figure out how to not make this blog not look so horribly ugly.

This weekend has been a really nice balance of work and play. I've been studying all day, and going out in the evenings. If I could only manage this kind of balance in my regular schedule, I'd get more work done and have more fun. If I could just delete the web browser from my work computer...

I'm hoping my schedule gets regular soon, because having to look at my calendar to figure out where I need to be every day just stresses me out. And I really need to find a group to sing with (of course, after the prelim). And a new voice teacher, since my old one (whom I was working really well with) is moving away.

Okay, this entry is basically turning into a todo list in prose, an indication that I should stop writing.