Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where am I?

Sometimes cyberspace can be deceptive

Every thousand visitors to this blog, I take a moment to look up statistics about the x-thousandth visitor. I'm most interested in the route by which the visitor arrived (link from another blog, web search, etc.). However, it is also interesting to note where the visitor is from. Actually, I ought to say, where the visitor's internet service provider (or the provider's contractor) is located.

In my own case, this information only sometimes accurately defines where I am. When I log on from work, for example, I am pegged not only as connecting from the community college; the precise campus where I am is pinned down. Over the dial-up connection in Albuquerque, I have also still been accurately placed. However, the dial-up connection at Five O'Clock Somwhere is pegged as being in Santa Fe (with the same provider as my parents in Los Alamos, who also show up as being in Santa Fe). When we logged on at Cornhusker's house in T or C, we used to be labeled as being in Little Rock; now we're supposedly in Dallas.

Pat and I are in the process of ditching the landlines and the dial-up ISP, instead opting for high-speed Internet through our cell phone provider. So far, it's worked quite well – except we're now supposedly in San Jose, California. Gee, you'd think we're right around the corner from my brother and his sweetie.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Academic dishonesty revisited

The technology war escalates

Last year, I wrote about discovering that I had had a visit to the blog on a search for a distinctive sentence from an earlier blog post, with quote marks around it, a common method used by teachers to ferret out academic dishonesty. At the time, I warned students not to attempt to copy something from the Internet to turn in as their own work, with the admonishment, "Don't even THINK about it. You WILL get caught!" – a standard warning I always issue to my students at the beginning of each term.

Still, this term, I have had two students who have attempted to turn in plagiarized papers. It's frustrating, and it really eats up a lot of my time to document the incidents and file all of the paperwork. The college where I teach requires that I report all incidences of academic dishonesty, no matter what. I consider this to be an excellent policy. I do not believe that academic dishonesty should be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. However, it eats up lots of my time, which, especially toward the end of the term, is a scarce commodity.

Part of the time-consuming aspect of documenting plagiarism is verifying that the work is plagiarized. This is usually done by doing an Internet search for distinctive phrases or sentences to find the original. The first student this term made the task time-consuming by pasting together material from four different sources. The second student, however, stymied me – every distinctive phrase I entered into the search engines turned up nothing. I knew the papers were plagiarized, and some other instructors who looked at them agreed – this was a student who couldn't put together a coherent sentence or develop a paragraph, and these were well written and well developed essays.

Then I discovered the latest online "service" provided to lazy students who just want to get a good grade rather than actually learning anything: plagiarism "prevention." These sites will allow a student to upload a paper, and then they will somehow modify it, changing words and phrases, and possibly making other adjustments, so that a teacher who does an Internet search on distinctive sentences will come up empty. The websites make such claims as "remove all plagiarism from your papers before you turn them in."

Bullshit. These websites don't remove plagiarism. They only disguise it. A paper is just as dishonest after being run through one of these websites as it was before.

And you know what? If you're a student and you turn in plagiarized material, even if you use one of these websites, you still WILL get caught. Even though I couldn't confirm an original Internet source for my student's essays, there were still enough glaring differences between this student's work and the plagiarized material that it was obvious. I just filed the report to the Dean of Students this afternoon.

Okay, I hear some students say … that was a student whose writing was really poor, so the plagiarism was blatant. What about students who write well enough that a plagiarized essay isn't going to be obvious? Well … if you're already writing so well that plagiarism won't be noticeable, then you don't need to plagiarize, do you? Your own writing will stand for itself. Don't cheat yourself out of an opportunity to hone your writing skills.

Labels: , , , , ,

Poetry Corner: Rick Evans

The only song to be a one-hit wonder in both the U.S. and the U.K.

In 1969, the United States put a man on the moon. The United States was also mired in a war in Vietnam, the purpose of which almost nobody understood -- and which even today is unclear.

On the day that a human first walked on the surface of the moon, the top hit on the Billboard chart was "In the Year 2525," the only hit ever recorded by the duo Zager and Evans.

It captures the pessimism of the times, the worry that humans might be on a course where technology changes all that is human about them -- robots, genetic engineering, ideas that were science fiction in 1969.

I would hope that today we have moved beyond that sort of vision, although certainly some of the technologies envisioned have come true far sooner than the song lyrics predicted.

In The Year 2525 lyrics
In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find

In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got not nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day

In the year 8510
God is gonna shake his mighty head
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been 10,000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through the eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find

In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today ....(fading...)
Thanks to for the words.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quickie weekend update

It was a good one ...

Not much time to say much, but this has been a good weekend, even if I'm now looking at piles of papers that I have to grade and not much time to grade them in.

Saturday's racing was under blustery conditions. Lots of things broke on many boats, including Black Magic, which experienced a spectacular spinnaker blowout along with some smaller things breaking. Lots of people suffered many minor injuries, primarily bruises. We had Penzance on board as guest helmsman. There were two races; we took two firsts. Yes, that's right, we beat Zorro. Twice.

Sunday morning, wind was nearly non-existent. We had Boothbay and his younger son (we'll call him Boothbay Junior for now) on board. Unfortunately, the wind didn't come up enough to hold a race.

Later in the day, we got more wind, enough that Pat and Cornhusker could sail Black Magic to the marina where the mast-up lot is, while I brought the truck down and set up the trailer. After we put our boat away, Pat and I joined Zorro on Constellation for a fantastic end-of-day sail. The wind was perfect, enough to make the boat go fast, but not so much that we were getting beat up. It had been a long time since I'd spent any quality time with Zorro, and that was good, too.

Labels: , , , ,