Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Please excuse the following incoherent rambling

Can I just say that I'm stressed out? One of the things that's rough about an engineering education is that when a teacher teaches well, the class is challenging and rewarding. When a teacher teaches poorly, it is neither challenging nor rewarding. Well, I have a test in a well-tought class tonight, and I'm stressed about it.

I spent this morning writer a group paper. Honestly, who assigns a group paper? Admittedly, we're supposed to act as a board of ethical review, but these things function like courts. The court decides and then assigns a member to write the opinion. Well, guess who's writing the opinion on this one. One other member of the group tried, but it wasn't exactly stellar. I would have been embarrassed to hand that in during high school, so I did the rewriting.

Time to get back to work. Just one more thought, from an anonymous author, found on a dry-erase board in Mueller Hall:

God + virtue = Augustotle

Monday, November 14, 2005

Saying what you mean

Our current cultural obsession with attempting to classify races by region when discussing America is leading to laughably predictable results when used in other contexts:

- CNN anchor Carol Lin referring to the two French teenagers of Tunisian descent whose death sparked the Paris riots as "African-American."

- a description of the black Vulcan bridge officer on the old "Star Trek Voyager" TV show was once described in a review article as an "African-American Vulcan." That gets funnier the more you think about it.

- During the last Olympics, one of the network airheads referred to black athletes as "African-Americans from all nations..."

Honestly, all we're doing is substituting one set of words for another without changing the definitions or connotations that accompany it. Most Americans view race as an ontological status, so when they say "African-American," they mean "black." Otherwise they wouldn't be applying it to people who are obviously not American (and could apply it to people from Africa who aren't black).