people sometimes04 February 2006
The other day while I was sitting in class it struck me that I was in Alberta. It isn't that I had forgotten, it was just that usually one doesn't notice unpleasant things like that. There were a few people down the row of seats talking about random things and then they came to the topic of our numerical methods lab. An amazing amount of disgust and vile comments came out of this. Mostly centering on our TAs for the lab time.
I will admit that the TA in mine didn't provide help in a timely manner but he told us before we asked our questions that he didn't know the programs that we were using to program but that he knew the language we were using (C++). Anyway, our questions were related to the program and not the language so he went off to ask around the lab to find the information from other people in the lab returning with exactly what we wanted to know. I can't complain much about him because he did find answers to questions for which he didn't have any.
The people down the row went off doing their thing, that is, ripping into the TAs about their inability to actually speak English and how the UofC sucked because they didn't have grad students who speak English. Now this is absurd. I have had only a couple TAs that didn't speak English in a way that was adequate for communicating the subject matter at hand. I have had professors that would switch languages mid-sentence, stumping all but a select group of bilinguals/multilinguals. Oddly, or at least it seems odd to me, the majority of my classes are filled with people who only speak English. This was never the case when I was at the UofA, most people that I talked to knew other languages, many learned them when they were young or while they were in primary/secondary school. This also had very little to do with many of them being in Linguistics. (For those of you who still don't know: Linguistics does NOT involve learning a pile of languages.)
I will grant that the people who were talking never purported to be tolerant people. It got worse on Friday morning when they were discussing the Danish editorial cartoon. Naturally, they didn't know it was originally Danish and had assumed that it was French or German, you know axis of weasel type places. (I will give them points for connecting disaffected French-muslin youth rioting and the editorial cartoon, but not very many points.)
One of them retold a story he heard on TV about some clerics saying they were tolerant and such then saying that the cartoonist should be killed. Following this lovely story that likely isn't accurate, they went on to point out the contradiction between tolerance and wanting to kill someone and discussing why we don't have these problem, i.e. there aren't those types of people here. Exactly who "those types" are I wasn't really sure but I didn't really want to get in any kind of discussion with them as it seems unlikely that I'm one of their favorite classmates already and I have to be in classes with them for two more years. Maybe I will be lucky and they will quit or do an internship if I don't and then I will only have one more year.
The other thing I don't understand is that they obviously despise the UofC and yet they don't do anything about remedying this situation. I would love to see them transfer somewhere else, but I don't foresee them doing such a thing. Personally, I don't have problems relevant enough with the UofC to make me want to go elsewhere. The UofA was nice but I still like UofC more. Many things make me feel like this.
I think that is enough for now. It is time for me to head off to sleep in my warm bed.
Song: Watermark - The Weakerthans, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin - Colin Hay
Book: Hitching Rides with Buddha, and when that is done I will read The Rights Revolution by Michael Ignatieff