Spamming you with irl…

Got 2/3 of my recommendation letters lined up, and they’re not looking nearly so bad as I’d been expecting. I’d been worried because I’ve been out of academia for six years, and most of my undergrad professors wouldn’t recognize me now, much less remember me enough to write letters of recommendation.

I’m scheduled to take the GRE on November 15th, which is giving me fits because OMG I CANNOT MATH, and my high school self would die of shame to see me now, given as I went to a math-and-science boarding school. The verbal section I do fine on, until the critical reading questions, where it devolves into me yelling at the book and going “Your MOM is irrelevant to critical consideration!”

Although, interestingly, the analytical writing section is turning out to be right up my alley. (Interesting because I get the impression that most other people haaaaate that part.) But it’s like, here’s a topic! You have half an hour to write something persuasive about it! And I’m like, “On it.” It is, admittedly, testing me over the areas I’m weakest in (structuring an argument in a logical way and getting it done in a timely fashion) but I’ve been making great strides in both areas this past year, and it’s paying off. (Although — ohhh — I learned how to fight on the internet, and I’m having trouble reining myself in from grandstanding and ad hominem arguments.)

Also paying off is all the weird and random reading I do, because it’s left me with a huge range of people to quote and factoids to cite. Freakonomics on nature vs. nurture adoption studies? Robert Cialdini on “flip-flopping” as a dirty word in politics? Jared Diamond on man-made natural disasters? Dude, I can find something to say about anything.

And it is kind of depressing that my skillset is valued in-and-only-in academia, where there is no money to be had and nobody in the real world respects you. But whatever, it’ll be fun!

18 thoughts on “Spamming you with irl…

  1. You went to math-and-science boarding school? Me too! I didn’t know that was a very common thing.

    I was lucky to take the GRE while still basically remembering all my SAT prep. It is noticeably harder though, like by the time I took the SAT in 11th grade I knew pretty much all of the vocabulary, but a few years later on the GRE I still didn’t know many of those words.

    The adjusted-computer based testing is weird if you’re used to paper-and-pencil. Get the first couple questions right, then have to answer really hard ones for the next forty questions. Okay computer, you’ve narrowed down pretty precisely what level I’m at in analogies after twenty questions, we don’t need the next thirty questions: that’s missing the whole point of you being a computer and adjusting things.

  2. I was ever so grateful that I didn’t have to take the GREs over again when I got my MLIS. The thought of doing math again makes me physically sick.

    Pretty sure you’ll do really well on the writing segments, however. I’m in the real world, and I respect Academia … but then, I’m a Geek.

  3. Ah, but they’ve changed the test since then, thank god, and don’t do that weighted/adjusted questions thing anymore. There are twenty questions, you can answer them in any order you like, and they’re weighted the same. Also there are no more analogies, which is good, because those were the questions I tended to miss in a difference of opinion with the book. :D

    Yeah, when I first started studying for the GRE I was like, Whoa wtf, all these words I don’t know! That was when I started making an active effort to look up any unfamiliar vocabulary I came across in my reading, rather than just glossing over them. A few years later, after reading Mieville’s oeuvre and a lot more Neal Stephenson, the word I don’t know is a rare treat. Yesterday I learned “monocoque,” which Firefox doesn’t even think is a word.

  4. Did you know that opinion polling in almost every other country in the world puts Obama ahead by like a million points? I’m like, fuck, why can’t THEY vote in our elections?

    There are a lot of ideas that Americans do themselves damage with, and the mistrust and contempt in which they hold higher education is one of them.

  5. My fear of the “other guy” (and I don’t mean the Hulk), winning the election makes me feel sick. I may not understand all the economic policies, but Obama’s social agenda has my whole-hearted support.

    You’re right about higher education. My undergrad degree in Literature was denigrated by just about everybody as being useless. But I loved it and have learned more from it about writing and the human condition than I have from getting my Masters, which to me was an economic necessity so I could support myself. At least people understand that much. Sigh …

  6. >There are a lot of ideas that Americans do themselves damage with, and the mistrust and contempt in which they hold higher education is one of them.

    “Mistrust and contempt” that is a thin mask over their raging burning shame. Reviewing “The Revisionaries”, the new documentary about the Texas State Board of Education and creationism, Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine pointed out, “Scott Thurman captures not only the fear and anti-intellectual resentment and insecurity that govern the dictations of the far right, but also the rampant unchecked egotism.”

  7. Incoming long post about how and why to understand the economic policies. You’re welcome to ignore it, but I did try to make it entertaining.

    Speaking as a bi atheist, I think the social issues (Black, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, women’s, gay, trans rights) are all improving and unstoppable.

    There’s still a long way to go, and progress will be faster with liberals than conservatives, but fairness is a genie that won’t be put back in its bottle.

    If I’m right, then over time the people who are now conservatives will become increasingly libertarian, as we’ve seen with the Tea Party, and Southern Baptist types in 2070 will say of COURSE they support gay marriage, offended that you would even doubt it or ask them, just as Southern Baptist types in 2012 say of COURSE they don’t want whites-only water fountains. (Yeah, not anymore you don’t. Because we kicked your asses in that fight.)

    If so, it all comes down to the liberal vs. libertarian/conservative economic policies, which are really quite simple: Are we going to have tax funded public goods such as public schools, universities, libraries, parks, power, water, sewer, telecom, trains, roads, and health care, so we can have a unified middle class society, or are we not going to have them, so the billionaires can get richer and our society has a few very rich and many very poor?

    To rephrase, are we going to be like Canada, or like Mexico? Mexico has wonderfully low taxes. And since Mexico has a lot of drug violence right now, it might be more fair to say the low-tax option is someplace like Panama. Panama or Mexico, though, many of the nation’s kids aren’t going to have clean water, doctors, or literacy.

    Even Obama is pretty conservative economically, as seen by the way his health plan, although it did have valuable reforms, didn’t even have a public option, much less Medicare for everyone the way the nation really needs.

    Romney is radically conservative economically, batshit crazy really, and has endorsed Ryan’s batshit crazy Tea Party budget plan, which calls for cutting Medicare to a tenth of its current budget, so that Americans over 65 who can’t stay healthy on a tenth the cost, or find other money to make up the difference, will just die instead. Ryan’s eager for school vouchers and Social Security cuts as well.

    Economic policy is somewhat complex, and there’s a lot of propaganda out there, but it’s well worth reading up on and understanding.

  8. Speaking as a bi atheist, I think the social issues (Black, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, women’s, gay, trans rights) are all improving and unstoppable.

    This is what I thought too, until just this past year when suddenly we’re getting all this atavistic bullshit with women’s issues — not just abortion, but trying to make birth control inaccessible? What the flying fuck? It is utterly ri-goddamned-diculous to even be having this conversation in America in the 21st century, but there it is.

  9. I lived in Canada for a year, and was covered by their healthcare. I have close friends up there who get excellent medical care — and it WORKS. Of course, we are talking a big difference in population as a whole, but Toronto is much larger than my city.

    Coming on the heels of a 19.5% rise in my own healthcare plan, I wonder where this will stop? I have a chronic illness that requires treatment, and I’ve very grateful that I do have a good health plan. I ache for people who need ongoing care and who fall in the cracks between Medicaid and Medicare.

    I would gladly pay higher taxes to support healthcare for those who don’t have private insurance.

    My sister seems to think that if Romney is elected, the economy will improve overnight, the sun will shine and the birds will sing. Yeah, hard to believe we come from the same parents!

    I agree with Gabriel. Never underestimate the power of bigotry and ignorance. Look at your TV listings. ((rolls eyes)). And listen to what is coming out of some politicians mouths. “Legitimate” rape? God “intended” pregnancy due to rape? Marriage is defined by the Bible as being between a man and a woman and everything else is perverted? What’s next? Women should stay at home and keep their mouths shut?

    Yeah, I’m damned scared of the conservative social agenda.

    Gee, this is more politics than I’ve talked since the election season started!

  10. TL;DR, the economic policies of the other guy amounts to the highbrow equivalent of:

    Step 1: win election
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: profit

    I’m not even kidding. *groans* I am looking at it from an economics pov and an accounting pov, and the numbers Just. Do. Not. Add. Up. For a businessman, he sure doesn’t know his numbers. That, or he does, and knows there’s no way he can make it work, which is why he’s resorting to handwaving and “just trust me” like a snake oil or used car salesman.

  11. They finally updated the GRE too? That’s good. There were a couple years in there where they’d moved over to the new SAT but were still using the old GRE and it was weird.

  12. Oh, don’t forget! Romney says he’ll let the women go home early from work because they have to make dinner for their families.

    So considerate, Romney. Yup yup.

  13. We had a conversation in one of my classes a couple weeks ago about whether or not anti-intellectualism is a problem in this country, and why it exists. I was the only one that really had a stance against anti-intellectualism, because, as I put it, “I’m a nerd.”

    The guys in the class all resoundingly replied that they hate it when girls are smarter than them.

    I wanted to say, but didn’t, not to worry, because the smart girls aren’t interested in them either.

  14. I seem to keep ending up in these ultra-conservative states, and have yet to figure out how this keeps happening.

    When you get into graduate school, I’ll come keep house for you! ^o^

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