Today’s Lovely E-mail

Apr 302005

At the top of my page of undergraduate papers, I say “To lazy and dishonest undergraduates: Remember that if you attempt to plagiarize any of these papers, your professor can easily discover that fact with a simple Google search. And if you do plagiarize, I hope that you get caught, that you fail your course, get expelled from college, and that you lead a generally miserable life commensurate with your lack of honesty. You have been warned!”

So I wasn’t exactly delighted to receive this e-mail this morning from a “Daniel Lee”:

Guess what sweetheart?, I plaigarised the hell out of your undergraduate paper and I didn’t get caught. Whats more I got a 4.0 and then won the lottery. So much for a ‘miserable life commensurate with my dishonesty’, eh?
I almost feel like I should give you some of my lotto winnings but nope – not gonna happen. Na, na, na-na, na!

I’m thoroughly disgusted — on so many levels. The admission of plagiarism is bad enough, but the gloating is particularly revolting. The implication that winning a lottery is proof that cheating doesn’t matter in life and that I’d ever want a dime of those winnings is just icing on the cake.

If anyone knows of a way to track down this student so that I can inform his professors of his gleeful plagiarism, please met me know. A contact at might be particularly helpful.

Here are the full headers:

Received: from (root@localhost)
      by (8.12.10/8.12.10) with ESMTP id j3UFkDkm024329
      for ; Sat, 30 Apr 2005 08:46:13 -0700
Received: from ( [])
      by (8.12.10/8.12.10) with SMTP id j3UFkBSl024312
      for ; Sat, 30 Apr 2005 08:46:11 -0700
Received: from mail pickup service by with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
      Sat, 30 Apr 2005 08:46:29 -0700
Received: from by with HTTP;
      Sat, 30 Apr 2005 15:46:29 GMT
X-Originating-IP: []
X-Originating-Email: [[email protected]]
X-Sender: [email protected]
From: “Daniel Lee”
To: [email protected]
Subject: have it
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005 16:46:29 +0100
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 30 Apr 2005 15:46:29.0490 (UTC) FILETIME=[C6773D20:01C54D9B]

Maybe I can get Glenn Reynolds to spread the word.

Good News about Boulder

Apr 302005

Thanks in large part due Chairman Bob Pasnau, the Boulder philosophy department is well on its way to recovery from the exodus of faculty in recent years.

The Department has announced five new faculty appointments:

Mitzi Lee, associate professor, formerly at Illinois/Chicago. Mitzi works in ancient philosophy, and has just published a book with Oxford entitled “Epistemology After Protagoras.” She will begin teaching in the fall.

Robert Rupert, assistant professor, formerly at Texas Tech. Rob works in philosophy of mind, has published papers with many leading journals, and is working on two book manuscripts. He will be in Boulder beginning this summer, but has an NEH Fellowship for next year, and so will not begin teaching until Fall ’06.

Eric Chwang, PhD Princeton/MD Baylor. Eric works in ethics and political philosophy, and has a special interest in medical ethics. For the next year and a half he will be taking an NIH postdoc, and so will not be in residence in Boulder until Spring ’07.

Chris Heathwood, PhD UMass. Chris works in ethics, and although he is just finishing his PhD, he has already published numerous papers. He will be arriving early this summer, and begins teaching in the fall.

David Barnett, assistant professor, formerly at University of Vermont. David works on metaphysics and language and has published numerous papers in the leading philosophy journals. He begins in the fall.

Five new hires in a year is pretty damn astonishing, particularly for a cash-strapped university like Boulder. (I am particularly eager to meet Mitzi Lee, our new ancient philosophy hire!)

However, these new hires don’t really solve the basic problem facing many of us already well into our Ph.D coursework, namely that of finding a well-suited dissertation advisor. I have only one more semester of coursework, so I won’t have too much interaction with the new hires, not even with those arriving in the next academic year. Moreover, most of the new faculty are too green to supervise a dissertation.

I’m sure that I’ll be able to work it out to my reasonable satisfaction. But until then, it’s all a bit worrisome.

Tax Competition

Apr 292005

Peter Mork of Economics with a Human Face posted some interesting comments a few weeks ago on the effects of a free market for labor within the European Union upon tax rates and other business regulations. The chart showing corporate income tax rates in 2000 and 2005 is pretty astonishing, in an unusually delightful kind of way.

I like the final question: “One question that remains is if Europe continues to move in this direction, how long will it be before the United States itself starts feeling the heat of economic competition from across the Atlantic?”

Soon, I can only hope!

Too Bad for the Ladies

Apr 282005

Some of you might be interested to read my recent posts to an Objectivism Online thread on the meaning and propriety of a joking comment about romantic availability. (Note that the linked thread actually starts in the middle of the discussion, since it was siphoned off from another thread. However, Post #16 on the first page has a summary of the original exchange.)

Basically, a poster joked that the women reading the board were missing out because he was romantically unavailable to them. He was attacked for making such a comment in jest on the grounds that it betrayed a lack of self-esteem and confidence, particularly a lack of security in his own value to women. Notably, those critics also claimed that making such a comment seriously would be entirely appropriate for a rational man.

I was pretty thoroughly appalled by the grand psychologizing of the poor joker, particularly in public and particularly under the guise of “helping” him. In my view, his joke did not at all betray the psychology so easily attributed to him. But even if it had, the public castigation was entirely improper. Perhaps (and I stress that “perhaps” since the parties were strangers) private discussion might have been appropriate. (Happily, one critic did apologize.)

I was also rather astonished that anyone would regard a serious comment like “Too bad for you ladies that I’m unavailable” as anything other than absurdly rude, disrespectful, and presumptuous. As I repeatedly argued, it ignores the optional values of the women in earshot, values which are critical to romantic relationships and unlikely to be satisfied by some random, unknown man, even if a perfect Objectivist. Such a comment also presupposes a substantially intrinsicist view of value: a good man just is a value to all good women, whether or not they are even aware of his existence. In fact, values are human identifications of the facts by the standard of life, not goodies to be plucked off of trees. So before Paul and I met, say when he was a sophomore at MIT and I was in second grade at Barley Sheaf Elementary School, neither one of us was a value to the other. We became values to each other only after we met.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the debate was my last exchange with “iouswuoibev.” After commenting on his total change of subject from serious comment back to joking comment, I wrote, “That’s fine, I really have no desire to say any more on the topic.” He replied, “That’s unfortunate because we haven’t finished.” Now perhaps he wasn’t finished with the discussion, in the sense that he had more that he wanted to say. But I was certainly done. I’d said all that I wanted or needed to say, particularly given his sudden reversal of topic and particularly given the time available to me. So that “we haven’t finished” was almost as insufferably presumptuous as the hypothetical under discussion.

True to that form, “iouswuoibev” seems to have moved on to telling a someone who inquired about his (reasonable) feelings of loneliness that his problem is second-handedness. Really, I kid you not.

(I don’t mean to pick on this poor young man too much, since I don’t think that he is malicious. Nonetheless, he is doing very real damage. If he won’t stop, he ought to be publicly opposed.)

Firefly Dreams

Apr 272005

Paul and I have been watching Firefly again. I think that’s the fourth time for me — and it’s even more amazing than I remembered. (We watch one episode per 40 minute exercise session. I must say, it’s damn hard to row when you’re laughing at some perfectly delivered line from Jayne. And I nearly leapt myself off the treadmill from fright in the scene where Jayne meets the soon-to-be-Reaver in the kitchen of the dead ship.)

However, this just-released trailer for the upcoming movie is so, so much better, for it promises glories to come (in September). Honestly, I didn’t expect to be so thrilled at even small glimpses of new Firefly. But I certainly was.

Update #1: OHMIGOD! Serenity sneak preview! In Denver! In a few days!

Here’s what Joss said:


It gets better.

As thus: The movie is very nearly finished. You’ve seen many pretty images in the trailer. But I’ve still got work to do and you’ve still got months before you can see it.


And, no, I’m not talking Australia (but Hi, Australia! anyway), I’m talking here in the more-or-less-United States, a one time multi-city Browncoat sneak event. Thursday, May 5th at 10:00 pm, the movie (Serenity! Pay attention! Jeez.) will be playing at exactly 10 theaters in 10 cities across the country. You (or possibly someone much like you) (or possibly a robot EXACTLY like you, but with better manners and sonic arm-lasers, sent to take your place) will be able to buy a ticket to see Serenity months in advance. Not just the bitty trailer with not enough Kaylee and Book, but the whole film, in its extremely almost completed state.

You probably have some questions. How is this possible? What cities exactly will it be in? What are these changes my body is going through? All valid. It’s possible because some clown put a bunch of Universal execs in a theater full of Browncoats and dude, they came out SWEATING, they never seen energy like that. They loved it, and even though they were already wicked supportive of the movie (see: earlier posts re: we’re making the movie) they simply weren’t ready for you guys. When I whinged on about pushing the date and everyone here was posting about “what do we do till September”, they agreed to let me sneak it out.

Maybe they thought it was a fluke. Maybe they wanna see if people really do care about the flick. Or maybe they’re just treating us with respect and kindness, though that last option confuses and terrifies me as much as these changes my body is going through (I’m “perspiring” and becoming “interested in girls”, which believe me is very unsettling when you’re 40.) Does it matter? The plan works for me, and it can work for a select bunch of y’all. Here’s what I know:

The cities to be hit are:

San Francisco
Las Vegas
The Portland of Oregon

If you’re in or near one of those, you might wanna stop by. There’s supposed to be a “Can’t Stop the Signal” page on this website (I don’t know where it is — hey, I remembered my damn password, doesn’t that buy me any cred?) There should be more info there soon about how to get in, bringing peeps into the fold, I think there’s even competetions and stuff. (All I know is I have exactly 20 Brownie points. I answered ONE triv Q and got it wrong. Forget cred. I have no cred.) Now a couple of us might just creep into one of those major metropolitan multiplexes to see if anyone does show up, so remember: swearing in Chinese ONLY.

All right. This will please the fans and satisfy the employers of Joss Whedon, so I must stop as my arm-lasers are getting tired. I politely thank you for your attention.

Should be fun.


To find out about dates and time and to purchase tickets, go to the Browncoats web site. You might need to create an account, if you are deficient in that regard. I’ve already purchased tickets for Paul and me. (A bunch of us from FROG will be going, of course.)

Oh, what a happy day!

Update #2: It really says something about Paul’s and my obsession for Firefly that we both blogged about the trailer. (I didn’t notice his post this morning when I wrote up my post.) In fact, Paul blogged about it twice: once here on NoodleFood and once on GeekPress.

Update #3: All ten cities are sold out. WOW!

Serenity Movie Trailer.

Apr 262005

Available here. This movie is going to be awesome…

Grad School Barbie

Apr 262005

Heh: Grad School Barbie. I particularly liked graduate advisor Ken:

GRADUATE ADVISOR KEN: Barbie’s mentor and advisor in her quest for increased education and decreased self esteem. Grad Advisor Ken ™ comes with a supply of red pens and a permanent frown. Press the button to hear Grad Advisor Ken deliver such wisdom to Barbie as “I need an update on your progress” “I don’t think you’ll be ready to graduate yet” and “This is nowhere near ready for publication.” Buy 3 or more dolls, and you can have Barbie’s Defense Committee! (Palm Pilot and tenure sold separately.)

I don’t have a graduate advisor yet, so perhaps the department will let me choose Ken. At least he could be on my committee.


Apr 252005

I recently found this interesting commentary on the likely response to the impending birth control pill for men by Glenn Sacks on the ifeminists site. He writes:

Women have long lamented the unequal burden they shoulder in the area of contraception. Today researchers are reportedly close to perfecting a male contraceptive that is free of side effects, easy to take, and reversible. But do women really want a male birth control pill?

…while women legitimately complain that biology has condemned them to bear the burden of contraception, this burden also gives women control over one of the most important parts of any human being’s life–reproduction. The male birth control pill will shift much of that control from women to men. Is the following conversation far away?

Woman #1: “My [husband, boyfriend, significant other] is selfish. He’s on the pill and won’t get off. I’ve asked him to stop taking it but he always says he’s not ready. He just won’t grow up. I don’t know what to do.”

Woman #2: “That’s what the pill has given men–a right to be perpetual adolescents. It’s given them veto power over women who want to have children.”

Despite the stigma that will develop against men who take the pill, the pill will be a success. While most women are responsible and want to have children with a willing, committed partner, studies show that lack of reproductive control can be a major problem for men today. For example, the National Scruples and Lies Survey 2004 polled 5,000 women in the United Kingdom for That’s Life! magazine. According to that survey, 42% of women claim they would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes of their partners.

…According to research conducted by Joyce Abma of the National Center for Health Statistics and Linda Piccinino of Cornell University, over a million American births each year result from pregnancies which men did not intend.

The article then briefly considers the serious, years-long burden of child support which may be imposed upon unwilling fathers. A male birth control pill could obviously put an end to much of that.

At present, women certainly do have a double power over procreation not enjoyed by men. First, the most reliable form of birth control, i.e. the pill, is taken or not by the woman, often out of the sight of the man. Second, only women have the power to opt out of pregnancy via abortion or out of child-rearing via adoption. A male birth control pill would offer men substantial control over contraception — and thus obviate much need (or wish) for abortion and adoption. Even with a male birth control pill, I still think that men ought to be able to opt out of fatherhood in the case of accidental pregnancy. Men ought not be placed into indentured servitude for 18 years due to bad luck.

I do suspect (and hope) that the author is wrong that a “stigma… will develop against men who take the pill”; the hypocrisy of that view would be too much for any reasonable person to bear. I’m sure that some women would lament the loss of their capacity to trick their man du jour into fatherhood. However, I suspect that such lamentations will be largely private, as they would reveal a rather twisted soul.

Wasted Dollars

Apr 242005

It’s true: “You and I just spent $2.5 million to turn a pyramid on its side, paint it with a rainbow coalition of colors and build a stairway along its side for a stick figure to climb.”

See for yourself:

The old food pyramid is beautifully comprehensible in comparison.

Sweet Justice

Apr 232005

I love Wendy’s hamburgers, so I’m pleased to hear that the woman (Anna Ayala) who claimed to have found a finger in her chili has been arrested on various charges. She seems like an all-around horrible person:

The investigation into the severed finger prompted the second criminal charge against Ayala, who authorities said sold a mobile home that was not hers to a woman who spoke only Spanish. The victim in that case lost her life savings of $11,000, police said.

The reward money for information about the source of the missing finger still stands.

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