December 06, 2005
Advice for a Plagiarist

I just read a fascinating story in the New York Press online about the strange case of Brad Vice. The author of the article, Robert Clark Young, highlights a few choice details about how at least two significant short stories attributed to Mr. Vice contain passages that were stolen ('borrowed') from other works. These two stories won Mr. Vice awards and accolades, and were published in markets I continue to try to break into.

Perhaps I should reword that -- ending a sentence with a preposition is one thing, but should I say I want to "break into" a market when theft (of intellectual property, granted) is the issue being discussed?

Never mind. The point is, Brad Vice has been caught red-handed stealing other people's work and calling it his own. He is a professor and, the evidence suggests, a plagiarist. His transgressions have embarrassed several institutions now that the story has come to light. His literary theft is so significant that his university employer has even (gasp) "formed a committee to investigate him on plagiarism charges." (Those are Robert Clark Young's words, not mine. I'm quoting that phrase and attributing it, accordingly, under the rules of fair use.)

I have a suggestion for Mr. Vice. Should your position at Mississippi State University become at risk, you may wish to consider applying to join the faculty at University of Pennsylvania. As I learned during my time there in grad school, plagiarism not only won't get you fired from UPenn, but you may not even have to face a cut in pay. And if you think I've paid particular attention to Penn's plagiarism problems because the victim of one of Penn's more interesting cases while I was a student there was named Allen Roussel (such a wonderful accident of homonym!), you'd be right.

Posted by at 01:41 AM in the following Department(s): Adventures in Academia | Comments (0)
 December 08, 2005
Lennon. And Marx.

Yesterday was a day that will live in infamy.

Today ain't so hot, either, historically speaking.

In honor of John Lennon, who was killed on this day in 1980, let us pause to reflect upon how much he and Marx contributed to modern culture.

Posted by at 01:24 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)
 December 10, 2005
Call Me Alexander

Ol' Blue Eyes the PilotWhen I was a young'un, my mother used to tell us kids how quickly time was flying by, and how much more quickly it seemed to fly by as we all got older. She was particularly fond of mentioning this as we approached the Christmas season, when I or my sib would express our desire for Christmas to hurry up and arrive.

But of course, I now have the opportunity to experience that exact phenomenon. Talk about time flying by quickly! The subject came up recently regarding how long Alexander had been sleeping in his own bed on a regular basis, and me realizing that we moved him to his "big boy bed" on New Year's Day (or thereabouts), 2005. Only a year ago. Heyyyy, wait a minute. A year ago? "Only" a year ago?!

Where did the time go? Where did 2005 go? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were worried about whether his potty training would be far enough along in time for him to start pre-school... and, well, that was months ago.

Baby is growing up fast. So many things we'd worried about -- sleep, potty, teething, pacifier, etc. -- are ancient history in a snap. Now we're dealing with questions like what we'll be looking for in a school for him, whether we should enroll him in a gymnastics class, that kind of thing. (More on the subject of education in another post, coming very soon.)

Alex is becoming increasingly articulate. Now when he describes his day at school, I can almost understand what he's saying. And when we picked out our Christmas tree this year, he made it very clear that "I want presents."

I believe I may have noted elsewhere that for the first year or two of his life, I referred to him as Alexander while his mother called him Alex. The shorter form of his name is winning out, as it's easier for his young friends to say and other moms follow Paulette's lead, not mine. No problem. So I've been calling him Alex lately. A day or two ago, he corrected me. "My name is Alexander."

"You want me to call you Alexander instead of Alex."

"Yyyyyup." (I think he got this particular speech mannerism from me.)

At school, there are two Alexes in his class, so our son is known as "Alex R.". Not much of a stretch from Alex R. to Alexander. And I'm pretty certain he remembers me calling him Alexander on a regular basis, even though it's been a while.

But back to time flying by in such a hurry--

I recently downloaded the pictures from our digital camera onto one of our computers, and we had only started taking pictures as we entered the Fall season. Images of him and Nolan in their Halloween outfits kicked things off. And here we are, now, having just passed by Thanksgiving and we are rushing at breakneck speed toward Christmas.

Zip, zip. Time zips by so fast that you could miss something important if you blink.

Alexander and his first snowmanIt snowed here toward the very end of November. Where we live, we typically get snow once or twice in a given winter, every other year. This time around, it fell (and stuck) for about three or four days. (As I write this, the snow has been gone for a little while.) Unfortunately for me, the snow days began while I was out of town on business -- Houston, where there was no snow to speak of.

This was good, big, wet snow. Excellent for snowball fights and making snow men. Paulette and Alexander made a couple of snowmen that first day, using up pretty much all of the snow that was available in our front yard at the time. She took photos for me to see -- this isn't the first time Alex has seen snow, but it is the first time he has actively participated in building a snow man.

I was lucky that by the time I returned, more new snow had fallen and Alexander and I had a chance to build a couple more snowmen. Way fun.

But these kids are growing up so fast! ... a fact that is driven home to me when Alex expresses his preference for me to call him Alexander.

Posted by at 01:58 AM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (0)
Nolan at Eight Months

Cheerios again? You always give me Cheerios.Nolan is simply amazing. He has already started crawling forward (at the same age as Alexander did -- which is no mean feat, given that Nolan is carrying around quite a few more pounds than his older brother did at that age) and his new favorite pastime is pulling himself up into a standing position, walking around the edge of the table or couch he's holding onto, and then falling down and bonking his head on the nearest piece of furniture. If he is unable to find a good solid piece of furniture to bonk his head on, he just whacks his head on the floor with as loud a ]thunk[ as he can manage.

He smiles all the time (except when he falls and hits his head), and is gurgling and cooing all kinds of sounds. His upper front teeth are breaking through, which has involved some degree of teething discomfort, but he's doing okay.

These past few mornings, Paulette has been getting up early to do some of her freelance graphic design work before it's my turn to head to the office to start my own work day. Thus, I am taking care of the kids from the time they wake up until Paulette is done with whatever she needs to do that morning. Nolan has been getting me up at roughly 5:30 or 6:00 each morning, but he's going back to sleep faster and faster each time I try to sooth him back to sleep. By 7:30am, he's just not interested in sleep, so he and I will typically go downstairs to play until his big brother comes down to join us.

As a late night person, I hate getting up early. But I'm loving spending these morning hours with my boys. They're happy to see me, we have a great time going through the morning routine (getting them fed and dressed is a game we all like to play, not a chore), and it gives me a chance to connect with them with no distractions. The work day arrives soon enough, and the evenings are too little time with too much that has to get done before they go to bed.

All that said, as Nolan's personality becomes more and more pronounced, interacting with him in the morning is increasingly special. He's just so delightful. Inquisitive and smart, definitely, but also pleasant and laid back -- all while showing a certain amount of determination. I've used these same words to describe Alexander, and both guys are about as easy as I can imagine children their age to be. Sure, their poop still stinks... but it's still easy to clean them up, too.

But while both boys have a sunny disposition, it's clear that Nolan and Alexander are shaping up a little bit differently. It's hard to put my finger on, just yet, but it's there. Some differences are probably just situational -- Nolan is still at a stage of discovery where little bothers him because everything is still new.

Nolan is taking to solid food more easily than his big brother did at the same age, and this surprises us not at all. Nolan has always been a bit bigger than Alex at the same age, and it wouldn't surprise me if Nolan outweighs Alexander within a couple of years. Nolan isn't constantly hungry, but neither does he completely refuse solid food when offered. His favorite right now is sweet potatoes. Must get that from his mother's side.

Happily, though, as he practices standing and side-walking and crawling, he's also turning that baby fat into muscle. This kid is solidifying quite nicely. (Unlike dumpy Dad.)

I have to admit that I get rather irritated at the general impression that our society has about the incompetence of fathers. Movies and other entertainment media reinforce the idea that dads are only good for teaching baseball (if that) and offering bad dating advice to their boys. Horse shit.

I change diapers, feed with bottle or spoon, rearrange rooms to make a safe play area, and supervise as much or as little as needed, depending upon the situation. I enjoy it all. I wish I could spend more time raising our sons than I'm currently able to do. I've offered to swap the workload (child-rearing versus job) with Paulette, but she's not going for that.

When Alex was born, I was underemployed. Most of my work was free-lance, and I did it at my home office, much like Paulette's work situation. Thus, Paulette and I split the efforts of raising Alexander pretty much fifty-fifty. I'm not capable of breast feeding, but Paulette wasn't capable of waking up in the middle of the night to take care of a crying baby, so we had a balance that worked out pretty well. For the record, I changed almost all of Alex's diapers for the first several months. Not that I'm keeping score -- I'm just trying to refute the "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "Daddy Day Care" presentation of fathers as being completely out of touch with taking care of children.

Cheerios! I love Cheerios!By the time Nolan came around, I was back to being fully employed and working out of an office away from the house. I'm therefore not getting as much quality time with Nolan as I did with Alexander at this age. (And, for the record, Paulette has arguably changed substantially more of Nolan's diapers than I have changed.)

As a result, this current arrangement where I take care of the kids in the morning is proving to be extra special. I'm getting that time with Nolan that I wouldn't otherwise get. At night, the ritual involves me putting Alexander to bed -- reading, teeth brushing, etc. Paulette takes care of Nolan in the evening. Now, finally, I get to spend that time with Nolan in the morning that I don't get at any other time of the day.

So why am I babbling so much about this? Because now I get to see more smiles from our little guy. When he smiles, it just lights up the world. It starts my day off on the best possible footing.

I'm starting to see the person Nolan is becoming, and I love what I see.

Posted by at 03:36 AM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (1)
 December 25, 2005
Holiday Wishes

I take this brief break between having wrapped and set up all of the presents for the kids under the Christmas Tree and the carnage that must inevitably follow when the kids discover said gifts, to wish you all a Merry Christmas.

If, however, my wishing you a Merry Christmas is in any way troubling to you -- whether because you observe neither the religious nor the secular traditions of this holiday or because you simply prefer to take offense where none is intended -- then allow me, please, to wish you a Happy X-akkah, or a Happy X-zaa, or a Happy X-tivus, or a Happy X-stice, or a Happy X-Year, or simply a pleasant weekend, whatever your inclinations should favor.

As for me, I have enjoyed spending the 24th in the company of my family and good friends, and I look forward to enjoying more of the same on the 25th.

"May your pleasures be many; your troubles be few...."

Posted by at 02:43 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)

Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
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The author. January, 2010.
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