Arrogance (Look, Hilde)

We’re reading a few things by Hildegard of Bingen for Latin.

Here’s this little song (antiphon):

Latin.png Latin text

O virtus Sapientiae,
quae circuiens circuisti
comprehendendo omnia
in una via, quae habet vitam,
tres alas habens,
quarum una in altum volat,
et altera de terra sudat,
et tertia undique volat.
Laus tibi sit, sicut te decet,
O Sapientia.
English.png English translation

O strength of Wisdom
who, circling, circled,
enclosing all
in one lifegiving path,
three wings you have:
one soars to the heights,
one distils its essence upon the earth,
and the third is everywhere.
Praise to you, as is fitting,
O Wisdom.

Fine. Rather insensible. If you have a third wing that is everywhere, then obviously it is in the Earth and in the heights. Wisdom is either a ridiculous helicopter or some sort of unbalanced dragonfly.

But this could make a lot of sense by minor modification! If you change just ONE LETTER of the 8th line, et tertia undique volat, by adding a tiny ‘s’ into undique, “everywhere,” and changing it to undisque, “through the waves,” this poem makes sense: Now, three-winged wisdom is the bird in the sky, the plowshare in the earth, and the fish in the waves. This would say that wisdom can come from faith (bird ~ soul, sky ~ closer to the lord), work (plow in the ground), and fish (easy-living creature supported by god).

Now, this was really clever to me until I decided to stop ignoring that humanism was on the rise, and that wisdom-through-work (toil?) wasn’t quite in vogue anymore. But I think it’s much more clever. I really think the head copyist made a mistake and left out the s, and then all the other minions messed up. I am willing to warp history and a thousand crumbling sheets of parchment to satisfy my ego.

I want back my conception of Medieval Europe from Ms. Jennifer Horbal (Marganski)’s 8th grade class, when Peter Abelard was just Sic et Non, the plague and printing press helped the rise of humanism, when class didn’t sound like a bunch of little girls’ chatter. We had fact and discipline back then.

Courses for next spring

Course Cart

AMCV1903P Please, Please Me

This seminar will investigate theories of pleasure and its representation in a range of fictional texts. What is it that makes a text pleasing and for whom? How do we talk about pleasure and explain it to others? I am especially interested in the representation of pleasure from the 1970s on.

EAST1950B Chinese Women, Gender and Feminism from Historical and Transnational Perspectives

This seminar course is designed to critically re-evaluate (re)presentations of Chinese women, gender, and feminism in historical, literary, and academic discourses. It examines a diverse body of texts produced through different historical periods and in different geopolitical locations. It emphasizes gender as both a historical construct(s) among competing discourses and as a material process of individual embodiment and disembodiment. The goal of the course is to help advanced students understand Chinese history from a distinctly gendered perspective, to recognize women’s roles in history and writing, and to develop a reflective, cross-cultural approach to gender, politics, and the self.

HISP2900 Theory and Methods of Foreign Language Teaching

What makes Chinese school suck?

CSCI1550 Probability and Computing: Randomized Algorithms and Probabilistic Analysis

CSCI1950F Introduction to Machine Learning

EAST1950G Market Economy, Popular Culture, and Mass Media in Contemporary China

随着改革开放, …

CLAS1750L Erotic Desire in the Premodern Mediterranean

CSCI1320 Creating Modern Web Applications

AMCV0190F Beyond the Tourist Trap: The Past, Present, and Future of Asian American Urban Spaces

Oh no it’s limited to freshmen and sophomores!

Vaguely French music / Comme le vent

Bartok is my designated music for walking down the cobblestoned streets of Providence on brisk, gray days. Today was gray and I was walking through Benefit street with the lovely Ashley Tuccero, but a little too cold to think of listening to Bartok. Windy, too.

Maybe I was cold not solely in terms of temperature, but something made the “Oh hot damn / this is my jam / [keep me partying ’til 2 am]” attitude of Bartok’s stuff inappropriate for my current state. As, you see, my hands would not have been “in the ayer,” but in my pockets, had my blazer had pockets.

There is something distinctly warm about French music. Yes, I mean the music of an entire geographic region, and temporally, Couperin to Faure to Hocus Pocus to Joe Dassin to, well, Stephane Pompougnac. If there were a musical analogue of caramel, I think they’ve got it.

For example, Stephane Pompougnac’s version of “ Here’s to You.” There’s something so welcoming and pleasant in the gentle, rustling percussion, the non-cloying use of I-V-vi [because it could go down the road of iii -IV- I – IV – V], perhaps even calypso rhythms? The lyrics also repeat over and over, but with very natural rhythmic improvisation by the singer. Like, if someone told me to make variations, that’s exactly what I’d try. It’s a fantastically comfortable song to listen to.

Here’s to you Nicholas and Bart
Rest forever here in our hearts
The last and final moment is yours
That agony is your triumph!

These lyrics are, somehow, from a series of songs about Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists from Massachusetts. I don’t know if I feel like an anarchist. I think I’m just cold.

A critical review (of mundane things)

In the slightly-no-longer-new Stephen Roberts (’62) Campus center, everything is green. The trash has four buckets (but all get converted to trash as the biodegradeable takeout boxes stack up, uncrushed and large in volume). The bathrooms have those airblade handdriers (which are actually extremely effective).

What I really cannot withstand is the toilets. They’re the kind with two settings: push in one direction to use less water for liquid waste, push the handle in the opposite direction to use more water for solid waste.

In the Campus center, despite all good intention, the toilet handles are installed upside-down.

What do I mean by this? People are used to flushing down. Most people tend to discharge liquid waste more often than solid waste. So it should be natural that the down direction correspond to the setting for liquid waste.

But the handles are installed in the opposite way! Now I have to do the new, unnatural, conscious behavior of flushing up to use the appropriate amount of water. This is inane. Certainly, if the solid waste flush is no more than an ordinary toilet flush (ordinary, in that the toilet has only water use option), we’re not using any more water than before. The frustration is that we could probably save so much more water simply by reinstalling these flush handles.

Now, more about water. I like water. I drink a lot of it, and to facilitate this, I carry a supply of water in my 32 oz. water bottle.

SR’62 has these hi-tech, sensor-based automatic “hydration stations.” In theory, you place your bottle in front of a sensor, the water begins to fall in a 1/4″ stream; you remove the bottle and the water stops.

This is an example of throwing technology at a task without addressing the main difficulties of the task.

Look, why do we need separate hydration stations? Because when you’re at a water fountain, you taking the 30 seconds to fill up your water bottle means that no one else can use that water fountain for 30 seconds. This makes you feel awkward, etc. Holding down the little button to turn on the water is not the hard part. Moreover, you can rest the bottle on the fountain as it fills up. To me, at least, the main chore of getting water is the time.

The hydration stations are slow. I’ve seen water fountains with greater flow; filling up 32 oz takes an eternity, compared to turning on a tap on a sink and filling up. These new hydration stations don’t even provide you the luxury of letting you rest the water bottle on a surface. You have to hold up, on average, 1 kg of water during the course of filling. The sensor is also imperfect, which mostly serves to make you feel like an idiot as you try all sorts of tricks to get the water to turn on.

I would like a bottle filler that is fast and relieves me the chore of holding up the bottle. I would like to be able to place my bottle on a platform, say that I require 2L of water, and have it jet out exactly as much. I am willing to discard any existing water in the bottle.

If this is unacceptable, this could be adapted so that I give it the total volume of my water bottle (yes, various bottles have different weights, but this range isn’t huge), place my bottle on a spring-sensored platform, and have the (faster) water flow adjust as it detects that the bottle has gotten full. This doesn’t seem terribly hard, though, might be economically untenable due to the cost of fast sensors.