Humor/whimsy

The Stink at MIT

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The stench at one popular Massachusetts Institute of Technology study spot has gotten so out of hand that student leaders have taken action to combat it.

Taking on 'Habits That Suck'

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Instead of relying on a stuffy code of conduct to police its students – like Hinds Community College officials who received flak last week for punishing a student who cursed at a professor – officials at Onondaga Community College hope students will be able to keep their smoking, swearing, spitting, parking rage and littering in check with the help of good old-fashioned peer pressure.

Introducing Glenn Beck University

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Glenn Beck, the controversial broadcaster, has decided to introduce his own education service: Beck University.

Spring Break 2011: Los Alamos?

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Feeling uninspired by your vacation options this spring break? A new book offers some off-the-beaten-path ideas for the vacationing scientist -- and the part-time science buff.

What Your Frosh Don't Know

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One ritual of the start of the academic year is the release of Beloit College's annual "mindset list," which aims to help professors understand what their new freshmen experienced (and didn't) growing up. While some items on the list are, of course, related to technology, many reflect the cultural and political world views of today's 18-year-olds. The list was created by Tom McBride, the Keefer Professor of the Humanities at Beloit, and Ron Nief, the former public affairs director.

Spooky Side of Research

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At Franklin & Marshall, student and professor investigate the weird world of ghost hunters.

'Stuff Academics Like'

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The blog Stuff White People Like quickly developed a strong following and turned into a book, and then a second, with a faux anthropological look at ... stuff white people like.

The Guts to Publish

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For motivation, two junior faculty members agreed to write five articles before Memorial Day -- or eat a heaping pile of livermush.

In Lieu of a Graduation Speech

At U of All People, we don’t have the cachet or bucks to draw a big-name commencement speaker. Like so many other schools of the third water, we call on local politicians and businesspeople, some alum who runs a charity, or an announcer at a cable network. But this year, no one rose to the bait: an honorarium of $50 and lunch in the president’s room. One after another declined with thanks (some without thanks), to the point where we were desperate.

So we called the English department, figuring that one of the faculty there could produce an eloquent speech. “I understand that some of them even write a little poetry on the side,” added Provost Finkh in one of his futile attempts at jocularity.

And that’s how we ended up with Professor Ernest Twistwhistle. Though a longtime specialist in Victorian satirical funeral sermons, Professor Twistwhistle is also a self-described amateur versifier. He said he’d be happy to declaim at the commencement ceremony, though he made the provost up the deal to $75 and dinner at the Sizzler. Below is the full text of his speech. Most members of the campus community remain divided over its intent.

***

“My Address to the Undergraduates, May 17, 2011, Mainly in Trochaic and Iambic Dimeter”

On this grad-
Uation day,
I come highly
Paid to say:

Listen to these
Platitudes,
And try to show
Some gratitude.

You’re the gen-
Eration that
Will soon get its
First crack at bat.

Go forth in
The world and make
One big splash.
Don’t be a fake.

Don’t just sit
There on the fence.
Celebrate
The difference.

Go for gusto.
Seek romance.
Make a fuss.
And take a chance.

To look at you
Makes me feel old,
And I don’t want
To seem a scold,

But don’t become
A lazy slob.
It’s tough out there.
You’ll need a job.

The future may
Seem bleak, I know,
Yet do not reap
Until you sow.

Try to give
More than you get.
Never make
A sucker bet.

Be firm of purpose.
Do not drift,
The race not won
Just by the swift.

Now, what else can
I yawn that’s true?
Only this:
May God bless you.

David Galef is happily employed as an English professor at Montclair State University, not, thankfully, at U of All People.

The Academe Awards

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Members of the other academy offer their Oscar endorsements.

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