Friday, March 30, 2007

Mothers, Fathers, & Non-Zero Sum

In preparation for the concluding lecture on High Fidelity ("where is Hornby going with this?") I found an excellent example today to illustrate Zero-sum thinking, in the context of our course and, as they say 'ripped form today's headlines, on Broadsheet: the 'women's issues' blog.
Why "Broadsheet"? For one thing, we like the word "broad," which for us conjures up images of Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson, ferociously pounding out copy on deadline in "His Girl Friday," her tailored suit wrinkle-free and sexy. But the term also applies to our content. The issues we'll tackle are limitless, really, given the fact that our subject includes half the world's population. Katie Holmes' pregnancy, Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination, the FDA's stalling over Plan B -- we've got something to say about all of it. Our goal is to be opinionated about topics that affect women, but also a filter by which we can look at the news from a (mostly) female point of view.
Broadsheet is responding to a lawsuit that the activist National Organisation for Women has initiated against the use of "....federal dollars -- to the tune of $50 million a year -- [to] fund a program aimed at promoting responsible fathehood."

Broadsheet argues, in effect, that NOW is stuck in zero-sum thinking: acting as if the promotion of good fatherhood must be detracting from the promotion of good motherhood. Broadsheet's response (one very congenial to my way of thinking, I confess) is that one can promote one to the advantage of both.

Nb: the classic book-length argument against zero-sum thinking is Bob Wright's "Non Zero":
Meanwhile, some examples of non-zero-sum things: arms control negotiations, trading gossip, the relationship among genes on a genome, and such transactions as buying a car, buying a book, buying a book or, finally, buying a book.

SFU, Rachel Marsden, Fox News &

During lecture on Bridget Jones in the context of 'post-feminism,' I brought up the notorious case of Rachel Marsden, and how it had been a tipping point of sorts that had resulted in substantial institutional change here.
À propos something else, I was surfing — a large-traffic left-of-centre American daily e-media — and to my astonishment found this major feature story on Ms. Marsden, who, I am to understand, is now a conservative commentator on Fox News Channel, being, it says, groomed for a very big profile. The article presents the SFU affair in prominent detail, puts the university (which it calls "....the famously progressive, Utopian Simon Fraser University") in high profile, and is compelling -- not to say alarming -- reading.
The sordid saga wreaked havoc on the lives of Marsden, [Swim Team Coach] Liam Donnelly, [Harrassment Co-ordinator Patricia] O'Hagan, and [University President John] Stubbs. But it also took a steep ideological toll on feminists....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Devil's Writing

Do not read this article. It is evil.

Classfellow E-mail

I wanted to share this e-mail from a classfellow:
Given the number of times Jane Austen comes up in lectures I'm surprised none of her books were on the reading list....I found an interesting little bit about how her publisher find her appearance too plain and are sexing-up her likeness with Photoshop. I guess the idea is that you can't write romantic things if you're plain looking. Thought you might be interested [in this.]
....Also, I'm not sure if [a certain classfellow] mentioned this to you yet, but near the beginning of the semester, she was telling me about a nasty man-bashing calendar she spotted for sale in the Burnaby campus bookstore. It features images of men as wind up dolls and contained sweet sentiments like "men are only good for sex." We wondered why it's OK to portray men that way in a school that's so outspoken about gender issues. It seems even some women are offended by this. Not sure if that calendar is still for sale.
I'd love to teach Jane Austen -- I had rather thought that P&P would be too obvious & well known for you all. Perhaps we should have a marathon nightime showing of the A&E version....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Twitter": Cell-phone Mini-blogging

By Richard Waters and Chris Nuttall in San Francisco
Silicon Valley is abuzz over a new mini-blogging service for mobile phones that some predict will be a mass-market hit with the reach of a YouTube or MySpace.
Over the past two weeks, Twitter has attracted the sort of hyperbole the Valley reserves for its next internet darling – though such self-reinforcing adulation also led to dotcom mania.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Harlequin Romance Covers

This seems disturbingly relevant....

And this, perhaps more so...
Replacing Fabio with Regular Joe
This is so great, because you’re pretty much exactly what we were trying to avoid,” says Blake Morrow, one of the judges, and an art director with Harlequin, while choking back laughter. “Hit the gym man, and we’ll see.”

Writing Support

From the Student Learning Commons people at our Library:

As we near the end of the term, the Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons would like to remind you of the additional academic support we provide students in writing and learning skills. (Via one-on-one appointments or drop-in .)

As....students enter the semester's 'writing crunch' and then final exams, please take a minute to remind them that there is additional writing and learning skills support available in the Student Learning Commons (room 3695-Podium Level 3-to the right of the Library). (Emphases mine.)

Some of the areas our friendly and knowledgeable Peer Educators and myself can assist students in are:

- planning and flow of a paper,
- integrating quotes (sic) and paraphrasing,
- improving coherence and cohesion,
- controlling sentence structure and punctuation,
- exam strategies,
- overcoming exam anxiety,
- ....more.

.....we do not edit or proof papers. The YWSLC Coordinator and Peers provide the insight, skills, and techniques to improve a students own performance, including learning how to write, edit and proofread their own work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

High Fidelity: Book -vs- Movie

A good article evaluating the film version of High Fidelity in comparison to Hornby's novel, from

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"For publishers, every day is Mother's Day"

Mr. Green sends along this article, à propos Bridget Jones, from today's online edition of the Guardian (venerable British newspaper, Left of centre.)
Bridget Jones is 11 years old and immortal. She is pickled in chardonnay and shielded from the ravages of age by celluloid and the comic potential of big pants. But it is just over a decade since she first appeared in print. By the calculations of British publishers that means many of the women who first bought her diaries have since got married and had children.
Women over the age of 30 buy more new fiction than pretty much any demographic segment in the country, accounting for up to 70 per cent of the market. If you listen carefully on a quiet day in bookland you can discern the hum of a hundred agents making a hundred pitches: 'It's Bridget Jones with a boring husband, kids and a lover. Madame Bovary meets Grazia magazine. V funny, v sexy.'

Mid-term Final Version: Grading Turn-around

Ms. Keating & Mr. Green are hard at work this weekend, reading, contemplating and grading your revised mid-term essays. In order to give you as much time as possible to study your graded essay before the Final Exam, they are aiming to have them returned to you within two weeks ... incredibly, perhaps as early as one week this from coming Tuesday.

In the mean time, I hope you are enjoying your (second) reading of High Fidelity this weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dr. Ogden's Schedule this Tuesday

Tomorrow after the lecture I will be taking Mr. Green's tutorials in his absence, from ten thirty to twelve thirty. To replace the Office Hours normally scheduled then, I will be in my office from twelve thirty to one thirty.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Helen Fielding on Hangovers

The (to me, hilarious) passage that I read out in lecture from Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim that, I suggest, Helen Fielding has in mind in her portrayal of Bridget Jones' hangover (pp 59-60) reads as follows, for you to better make the comparison.

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. he lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again.A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
There is a literary point of some significance here pace Bridget Jones' Diary, to be discussed in Tuesday's lecture.

Dr. Ogden's Grading -- Scaled

For those of you in Mr. Green's tutorials whose first-version essay I graded or examined, here is the scale of the given number grades to SFU-standard letter-grades. This harmonises my grading & Mr. Green's for consistency across tutorial groups.
5 = A, 4.5=A-, 4=B+, 3.5=B, 3=B-, 2.5=C+, 2=C, 1.5=C-, 1=D, 0-0.5=F

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mid-Term Revision

The mid-term first version essays have now been graded and handed back. As I laid out in lecture, the project for you now is to incorporate your marker's corrections, analysis and recommendations into a full revision. This final version will be graded on degree to which it incorporates both the letter and the spirit of what your essay's marker has added to the first version.

Any questions about the grading can be brought to the marker in Office Hours, keeping the following two things in mind. First, the grade for the first version can be revisited any time until the end of term: the concentration over the upcoming week is most advisedly put on the work of revision. Second, the first version grade is only five percent of the assignment: in my view, a key point.

For students in Mr. Green's tutorials, I will be available on Tuesday in Surrey for Office Hours at a different time for the week only, as I will be taking Mr. Green's tutorials during my regularly-scheduled Office Hours. I am also available at the Burnaby campus in AQ6094 on Monday and Wednesday between ten thirty and three thirty. Furthermore, I can be contacted for a by-appointment Office Hour outside these many hours.

Write away ....

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Sloan-iness Satirised

For more information on the Sloan set -- the object of Helen Fielding's satire -- see this 'quite posh' website. Younger Canadian women may recognise some of the fashion they originated....

The Laura Ashley site is right here. Observe the too too perfect Sloaney model they use.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Etymology of "Hooligan"

In light of a Clockwork Orange and the City of Surrey's "....very new broom", here is the origin of one of the slurs used against 'lads':

In the distinctive language of British journalism, the English football fans who caused so much trouble in Marseilles variously “went on the rampage”, “ran amuck”, were guilty of “thuggish behaviour”, or “caused mayhem”. They were variously described in news stories as louts, yobs, thugs and ruffians, but the word that was universally employed was hooligan.
It’s an odd word, which the Oxford English Dictionary says started to appear in London police-court reports in the summer of 1898....

Thursday, March 1, 2007

City of Surrey uses "a very New Broom" against its 'Droogs'

The recent stories in the local media on how the government of the City of Surrey's is taking intensified action (".....what they call a very new broom") against men -- referred to only as "criminals" by the politicans and media writers -- are repetitions of the opening chapters of Part Three of A Clockwork Orange:
I kaputted a gazetta....[t]here were very boastful slovos about what the Government had done, brothers, in the last year....improved social services and all that cal....But what the Government was really most boastful about was the way they had recokoned the streeets had been made safer for all peace-loving night-walking lewdies in the last six months, what with better pay for the police and the police getting tougher with young hooligans and perverts and burglars and all that cal.
From the City of Surrey's homepage:
Surrey Unveils its Crime Reduction Strategy
February 26, 2007
This morning (Februrary 26, 2007), Mayor Dianne Watts was joined by Attorney General Wally Oppal, local MPs and MLAs and community leaders to officially unveil Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy.
The Crime Reduction strategy (CRS) is a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to addressing the root causes of crime. It seeks to implement new and innovative programs with practical applications that will result in a concrete, measurable reduction in crime.
The CRS represents the culmination of the efforts of the Mayor’s Task Force on Public Safety and Crime Reduction....
“The Surrey Crime Reduction Strategy is a complete paradigm shift from what is currently being done in Canadian municipalities to combat crime,” said Mayor Watts. “It is an approach that seeks to incorporate all the key stakeholders and create one, unified, comprehensive plan to address the root causes of crime in our community.”

Locally, then, as with the English case, bad press for the hooligans, i.e. men.