In which XKCD attempts to figure out the gravitational forces operating on a cloud of starlings. Especially awesome today.
The Onion has been on a roll lately. This makes me laugh hysterical historian laughter for about twelve reasons, two of which I can name. First, I love the Byzantines and their enemies, and anytime Mehmed II comes up is a good day. This is awesome.
It is also amazing political-media satire, because, again, when we contemplate going to war the only war anybody seems to remember anything about is World War II, though they only remember the version that says that Hitler could have been stopped. That is perhaps true. But it is pretty completely irrelevant to what the right thing to do in Syria is. Probably there isn’t one. But it would delight me if we could all pick a new red herring historical argument to use in all circumstances.
Love this more than I can say. Somebody needed to skewer the unbearably smug Beloit Mindset List, and I’m happy some professionals took the job rather than a lame and tame academic like, to be fair, myself.
Free Latin consulting: E somno cholera (et leo).
Though, actually, if I could get some meat that would be great.
At the dawn of each academic year, East Arcadia State University prepares our instructors and staff by curating some facts and observations about the generational differences that are peculiar to our incoming freshman class. By understanding how the world looks to them, we hope to provide the best possible educational experience. In other words:
How have things “always been” for East Arcadia’s incoming class of ‘13?
First, let’s kick off the ought-niner MindSetter with the hard and painful facts.
Folks, there’s no nice way to put this: many of these kids are young and uneducated.
Recent data conducted by the prestigous Van Hœt Group suggests that many of the 17- to 20-year-old students who comprise the fattest part of our freshman curve are not yet 21 years old; many are barely older than 16. But, it gets worse.
Van Hœt has aggregated, analyzed, and cross-referenced historical data suggesting that as late as September of 1960, at least 40% of the students entering college for the first time did not have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree — let alone the extensive post-doctorate experience we all now understand to be critical for the long-term success of dodging costly loan repayments. Today that number is over 90%. You heard right. That’s “ninety.” With a “b.”
So in sum, these kids are mostly under 20, completely hopeless, probably armed, frequently drunk or high on I-don’t-even-want-to-know-what, plus they already can’t afford the education that they haven’t received with the money they haven’t figured out how to not pay back. It’s literally that bad. Today. Here.
But we keep our chins up at East Arcadia. It’s one reason everyone loves scarves and complains of chronic neck pain.
Students entering college for the first time this fall were generally born in 1990. Some were born earlier or later than 1990. Our youngest student is a Fulbright Scholar and surprisingly robust preemie who, because he was born last week (36 weeks pre-term), will be our sole tenant in the spanking new Petri Hall. We think the nurturing culture there will suit “Li’l Jacob” well.
That said, for all of these students, Thomas Aquinas, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Petrarch have always been dead. Bob Hope and Guy Lombardo have always been assumed to be dead (N.B.: both are, indeed, now dead).
Many other people have also been dead, but space and costly mimeograph expenses preclude our typically exhaustive accounting. Thanks in advance for understanding (especially if you’re the obese tenured “atin-lay ofessor-pray” whose entirely avoidable 4th cardiac event singlehandedly sent the entire college’s insurance premiums through the roof. Keep inhaling those pork rinds, Professor. Sic Semper Pork something).
So, our big, annual question: How’s life always been for this year’s incoming class at East Arcadia?
- Copper has always expanded when heated. Although, it’s also always been less satisfying as a snack than, say, a Hot Pocket or a slice of cold lamb with a little sea salt and a dash of fresh ground pepper
- March has never been called “Burkina Faso” which is one possible reason so few of our students choose to attend Spring Break on whatever continent that place is
- Phones have always had some sort of technical facility for sending and receiving the sound of the human voice while one is nude, dining, or just quietly masturbating to a well-loved 1978 facebook
- Elephants have always been the one thing most people associate with Hannibal’s famous attack, although almost no one knows why, but they still sing that song “Baby Elephant Walk” and make really obvious Silence of the Lambs jokes until security arrives
- Golf has always been a costly diversion for tedious white people who dislike their children, but enjoy drinking near sprinklers and pesticides
- Anilingus has always been something many people of all ages are nervous to ask for (even if it’s for an anniversary or your birthday or because you literally caught your so-called “spouse” doing it to a civil servant like she was eating corn on the cob and Jesus Christ right there in your own goddamned house where your fucking kids sleep at night. Or what have you)
- Laser bird shoes and the dangerous nesting boxes that are used to store their colorful waste have both always never been invented yet (for now)
- Tattoos have always been more permanent and cost-effective than an equivalently regrettable t-shirt — especially given the rising popularity of the japanese symbol that someone in rubber gloves whom you just met after Tiffany’s “Sex in the City” themed engagement party while you were admittedly pretty drunk has told you means “Um….’one…ness…of…brave…spirit…woman…hearts…and peace.’ Yeah. It’s Kanji.”
- Oceans have always been a sloshy, watery, unnavigable presence, teeming with dragons, non-white immigrants, and rich deposits of Lorenzo’s Oil, all floating in completely unknown locations somewhere between the better documented but much smaller big, landy parts of the continent things
- Jetpacks and moving sidewalks have always been a lazy way to frame false dichotomies about society, technology, and the complex ways that resource scarcity do or do not hew to century-old pulp fiction and coloring books. Related:
- Steampunk has always been a diverting way to make something pedestrian a little less useful by adding a makebelieve brass thing and some polished wood. (Don’t miss our collection of Jules Verne’s infamous “Felching Jars” and “Walnut Poppers” in the rear of the Lisagor Library, [Wing B]. Ask for “Betty”)
- Three-card monte has always been a socially acceptable urban application for soiled cards and shoddy, collapsible tables. (FACT: This is why East Arcadia’s marching band still plays Joplin’s popular “Pump the Suckers then Boogie with the Booty Rag” before every football game)
- For this class, mentioning the music of Mozart has always been a subtle means to evoke sophistication in a way that many people are too polite to call out as proof that the mentioner is so full of shit because did you know that Amadeus actually has enough plot holes and factual errors that it might as well be called Ooooo, Look at Me! I’m Fucking Peter Schaffer, and Apparently I Couldn’t Distinguish Mozart and Salieri from Fucking Simon and Garfunkel Unless I Had a Goddamned Flashlight, Five Viennese Rent Boys, and a Giant Bouquet of Edelweiss Up My Ass. Wheeeeeeeee, Mozart Something Something!
- Lists have always been a great way to turn a bunch of bullshit into some fast web traffic. So listen to an okay funny podcast called You Look Nice Today (iTunes). As the school year begins, you can start out by learning more about East Arcadia in an episode entitled, “Vachina.”
E Somnus Cholera. (Et Leonem)