The Nine Faces of Dave
2003-12-30 10:40:19 (UTC)

they'd give me a C in style

So I finally got some word back about my grade in my writing
course for CS. Apparently they bumped my grade up from its
original standing since the missing paper was such a massive
anomaly. What this means is that even if my paper does get
taken into consideration, there may not be any net change in
my grade. Which would mean there wasn't much of a curve.

This, coupled with my grade in art, leads me to believe that
I don't do well in ostensibly easy classes. I guess it's an
issue of comparative performance; I've got what it takes to
beat the curve in my harder classes (math and real CS), but
in classes where the average performance is better, I don't
do as well with respect to the rest of the students. It is
a little crass, I suppose, to look at it this way, but what
I'm seeing here is that my performance thus far hasn't been
based so much on my doing particularly well, but more on my
doing well compared to everybody else. My raw scores have,
of course, been pretty good. But let's look at it this way:
the raw percentage I got in my writing course would have led
to an A in both my other CS course and linear algebra. And
instead I have a B .

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this. I guess I find
the curve system rather annoying, even though it's probably
helped me out big time in the past. It just seems like the
use of a curve (except just linear transformations) tends to
shift the emphasis from how well you do as an individual to
how well you do compared to everyone else. And sure, that's
probably the way success is measured in the real world; "In
the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." But why
should such a crass system exist at the college level? Say
you've got a standard bell curve; if everyone got 75% of the
points (at a minimum), there's no reason anyone should fail
the class. Maybe it's too easy, sure, but everybody in the
course got at least a raw C, and nobody should be failed in
that circumstance. Now granted, that probably doesn't often
happen, but it illustrates my point. Any non-linear curve,
unless implemented on an enormous body of students, is going
to give some people the shaft, even just a little bit.

I guess the lesson here is, if you're good at something that
other people find difficult, keep on doing that.

On a less serious note, I've decided I should try to make a
scarf before my break ends. But this is no ordinary scarf;
this is going to be based on the scarf Tom Baker wore during
his run on the old "Doctor Who" TV series. According to the
sources with the patterns and instructions, the scarf in its
original incarnation was about 13 feet long. So I say it's
manly to knit so long as you make something huge.

All joking aside, I think this could be a very fun project.
I'll learn a useful skill and get a very cool garment out of
the deal. It'll definitely be a unique bit of clothing for
me at college; I wonder how people might react to it.

It does make me face the reality that I am becoming somewhat
more concerned with my attire and overall appearance. That
isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, but it's definitely a
big change. Having never cared much about clothing before,
I'm somewhat lacking in guidance right now, so all I'm doing
as of now is making sure my clothes fit right. I'm starting
to think it might be easier to commit to some subculture and
just dress that way, but it could lead to conflicts: I like
punk or hipster attire to some extent (especially when women
sport the look), but I prefer to dress myself in a somewhat
more conservative fashion. Though I wouldn't mind having a
black leather trenchcoat, but I think everyone wants that.

But being serious, the style issue is an annoying one, maybe
the most annoying one in society today. I'm reminded of an
American Splendor story (on a different issue) where Harvey
Pekar said "There are as many sets of standards as there are
people." And I think the same rings true in clothing. For
me, a 13-foot multicolored scarf is a pretty damn cool idea,
and something I'd like to have. Other people might think it
looks dumb. And other people wouldn't even notice. I guess
the best we can hope for is that the people we seek approval
from (friends, relatives, love interests) aren't the sort of
people who are shallow enough to judge us by our attire, and
that we are as much the same way as we like to think we are.

Who knows, maybe this girl I'm interested in back at college
would think I look cool with a giant scarf. Yeah, it's one
hell of a stretch, but a guy's gotta hope for the best.

This is Dave, signing off.