Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Catching up on January shows

My new shows for January (excluding My Name Is Earl) include two Ed alumni and a cute thirty-something who wears glasses:

  • Dabney Coleman and Hugh Bonneville thus far hold the only viewer interest in CBS‘s Courting Alex, which also features Ed’s Josh Randall as Jenna Elfman’s sorta-kinda-boyfriend. Meh.
  • Tim Cavanaugh (i.e. Ed his own self) headlines Love Monkey (also on CBS), which isn’t half-bad thus far. And it’s fun to see Judy “Spring Break!” Greer from AD in another show.
  • Finally, Lisa Loeb (one of my favorite glasses-wearing thirty-somethings) stars in the reality show #1 Single (on E!) as, er, herself looking for love in all the wrong places (i.e. not anywhere near Durham). I haven’t gotten to this one on the TiVo yet, but I am assured it is good.

All three shows, incidentally, are set in New York City. What are the odds?

Sex and the single girl

Serrabee comments on a list of “10 things every single girl must own.” I’m not sure anything on that list (at least, of the things that are supposed to appeal to guys) would really impress me, but then again I may not be typical of the single male population.

Planning on two fronts

Modern computer processors have this feature called “speculative execution,” in which they try to guess which code path is more likely to be executed, and actually go ahead and execute that code before seeing which path is taken. This is a perfectly sensible strategy; however, if the prediction is wrong, the computer has to “undo” all that work and take the other branch.

Today I engaged in a little speculative execution of my own by putting in the paperwork to teach my (hypothetical) research methods class in the fall in an Interactive Computer Classroom. It’s not a huge investment by any stretch of the imagination, but every little commitment edges me down the path of spending another year in Durham. And given the state of the job market these days (and perhaps my generally picky nature), the chance of a branch misprediction seems rather low at this point.


Econ prof James D. Miller think colleges need to “fight” RateMyProfessors.com. I don’t know if it needs fighting, per se, but I’d say it’s only marginally valuable. For example, here at Duke I’m allegedly easy but at Millsaps I was easier yet was considered tough (and had the grade distribution to prove it—my classes were consistently below the college’s mean GPA).

That said, I don’t mind student-centered evaluations and have even lauded one effort to compile such things here at Duke, where the “official” evals for last semester are apparently so shrouded in secrecy that I still haven’t seen them 6 weeks after turning in grades. And I don’t even mind student evals in general, although they almost certainly were a factor in my failing upward in the academic universe.

Though, as a political scientist looking for a job, the mentality noted by this commenter (allegedly a faculty member in my field) is somewhat disturbing:

I have been to two academic conferences within the year (academic year 2005–06) where colleagues were running tenure-track job searches (political science) and when I made recommendations regarding two individuals who I thought might be a good fit for both jobs, I received subsequent emails that,“after having checked RMP” (talk about unprofessional behavior!!!) there were “concerns” whether either of the recommended colleagues could teach in liberal arts enviornment. Clearly RMP is being looked at by folks on search committees. Don’t believe for a minute that after having looked at RMP folks are not influenced by what they read. And don’t believe that search committee members are not going directly to RMP to, as I was told, “a snapshot” of job candidates. AAUP and the national associations for the various disciplines ought to step in on this debate and come down clearly on RMP and its use in job searches etc.