Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Welcome to the standard interview meme, where people like me are made to answer peculiar questions (in this case by max_ambiguity). I think I'm supposed to say that you should leave a comment saying so if you want me to ask you five.

1. What is your favorite beverage?

I drink a lot of cola; I don't really care between coke and pepsi. I like tea (earl grey or otherwise plain ol' black tea) every now and then, (especially when it's cold out) and I grab a Stewart's root beer almost every time I go to the 61c.

2. Would you say that learning proper grammar and spelling is unnecessary for students in engineering, math and other sciences, and that they should not be graded on their ability to write well?

I believe strongly that the skill of expressing yourself well in writing (and in speaking) is absolutely essential to doing good work in pretty much any academic field, science and engineering and math included — since, with few and diminishing exceptions, you just can't get by as a lone genius anymore. Doing work is doing work with other people, whose ideas you must understand, who must be made to understand — and persuaded to care about — yours. My opinion of what good writing is, however, may (depending on your philosophy of linguistics) seem like it is rather lax on issues of grammar and spelling. I believe, for instance, (contrary to some style guides and my prescriptivist nemesis lambdacalculus)

  • that splitting infinitives is acceptable, because I have only seen them rejected for historical reasons, and if the history of latin grammar counts as a valid source of evidence, then we ought to just as well consider on the other side of the argument the history of the formation of the infinitive in english from the dative preposition "to".
  • that ending clauses with prepositions is acceptable, for more or less the same reason.
  • that the epicene (i.e. gender-inclusive 3rd-person singular) "they" is a well-established adaptation to the english pronominal system, no less legitimate than using "you" for a singular referent instead of "thou" (which was also justified by concerns of pragmatics dominating pronominal number regularity)
  • that "which" can acceptably be substituted for "that" in restrictive relative clauses, especially in phrases such as "Consider that which verbs the noun" where such a substitution avoids repeating the word "that". Use a comma (or em-dash, or parentheses) in writing, or a pause in speech, to distinguish restrictive from nonrestrictive clauses.

On the other hand I almost always cringe at "dependant", "u", "lol", and confusion between its/it's, and they're/their/there. On the other other hand, I predict that in a hundred years, "its" may entirely die out in some varieties of english under levelling pressure from the regular apostrophe-ess possessive construction. People who use "its" for "it is", that I just don't understand at all.

I guess if I were an undergrad getting docked points for making a grammatical error I might whine about it, but now that I'm on the other side of the TA-student power struggle, I'd say take no prisoners.

3. Who is the most interesting person you've ever met?

Wow, I don't really know how to answer this. My experience in college and grad school could hardly be better described than as the greatest opportunity I've had to meet interesting people. I'll dodge the question by giving the most interesting person I haven't met: jra1279, a friend of a friend studying PoliSci at Yale, who I've had more enlightening AIM discussions with than anyone else.

4. What colors do you wear most often?

My pants are brown corduroy lately, and my shirts are all over the map; I have some that are white, black, red, yellow, blue, green, and orange. I had a favorite black jacket from Cat and Girl but it is starting to fall apart.

5. What does Pittsburgh taste like?

O fries.
Tags: questions
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