A Bright Idea

I really, really love this place. So many smart people! At lunch today, a friend told me about Bright Card, a local start-up credit card company with a simple but brilliant plan - instead of the usual airplane mileage or magazine subscription rewards programs linked to credit cards, why not take that money and do something good for the world? Bright Card, it appears, is just a normal credit card, but every purchase you make earns you carbon offsets - about the most painless, effortless step toward carbon neutrality you could take. The card hasn't been launched yet, but you can put your name on the list to hear about it when it's ready. Yet another reason to look forward to my 18th birthday!


Confucius say...

Sophomores are wise fools. No, really - according to my Greek book, σοφος "wise" + μωρος "foolish" = sophomore "wise foolish one." The "official" etymology in my Oxford etymological dictionary gives it as an obsolete form of "sophism" + "-er" = "one who makes sophisms." Personally, I find my Greek book's version both more plausible and a lot more interesting. After all, who doesn't like having an oxymoron for a name? (As an aside, οξυς "sharp" + μωρος "foolish" = oxymoron "a pointedly foolish thing.")

pants Brit. informal rubbish; nonsense.

I admit it - I am a big fan of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I just read the fourth and last book, however, and was exceptionally disappointed. I wasn't terribly impressed by the story line, and felt that the characters remained fairly static, but that isn't my main complaint. What bothered me was the fact that the characters generally took a moral nosedive. Amid the masses of catty fiction for teenage girls (think of popular series like Gossip Girl, The Clique and It Girl), it's nice to find something that I wouldn't actually mind my younger sister reading. While the first three Sisterhood books weren't all sweetness and light, the characters made choices, faced the consequences of them, and generally learned some important lessons. The books didn't necessarily preach against drinking, premarital sex, etc., but they steered far clear of glorifying them, something I greatly appreciated. You may find my view stuffy or prudish, but I believe kids don't need to be thinking about that sort of thing, and as for the "growing with your audience" argument, do those topics really make the story any more mature? Personally, those aren't my criteria for maturity. But I digress. The fourth Sisterhood book slipped off its moral high ground and left the characters making some fairly suspect choices with less than severe repercussions. The general message I took away was that growing up means losing your inhibitions. In small doses, that's a fine message, but it really ought to come with the caveat that some inhibitions are there for a reason. That's my stand on the matter, anyway. And you ought to read the book, if only to round out the series.

As an aside, no offense meant to anybody who reads catty teen fiction. It's pure brain candy, and I certainly indulge in it myself. It's only a problem when that sort of thing is all that younger girls are reading, without the realization that it's trash. There's no reason not to eat candy, as long as you don't go around thinking it's broccoli (or insert healthy food of your preference here).


Jaw-Dropping, Mind-Numbing Stupidity, a.k.a. MTV

Having lived in a cable-TV-free home for most of my life to this point, I am still surprised at the depths to which popular culture can sink. I'm also fairly surprised to have that revelation in a setting like Midd. You would think that, bright, intellectual students that we are (that was only partially sarcastic), we would want to watch something that might engage our big brains just a tiny bit. Far from it. At the gym today, I caught the end of My Super Sweet 16 and the beginning of Next, both of which left my jaw literally hanging open at the sheer tastelessness of it all. The former was nothing of a revelation, really - seems like a lot of reality shows are about pointless extravangance, cattiness, and girls acting too old for their age. The latter, though, seemed like something that ought to be a SNL parody of a dating show. The whole thing was so badly conceived and executed that I'm amazed they manage to get funding. The premise of the show is that one person has a lineup of dates to choose from, and at any point on the date can reject them for the next in line - the dates receive money for each minute they stay in the running. As a concept it could be a lot worse, but the sick, juvenile, spiteful "humor" was so contrived and over-the-top as to be utterly, unbelievably unfunny. Here's what I remember of one exchange among the prospective dates, some of whom had already been rejected: "What's that on your face?" "She put kabuki on me." "She did a dookie on your face?" "You look like dookie!" - all punctuated by raucous laughter. Painful to read, isn't it? That's the sort of joke third grade boys might find funny. I cannot fathom any girl ever dating one of those guys. And this is the sort of cultural message one of the nations more popular entertainment networks is broadcasting. Drugs are illegal because they make you stupid. Shouldn't shows like this be illegal on the same premise?



I'm pretty sure it happens with all teachers or professors - probably with all people, but most don't have the opportunity to talk to you day after day for hours on end - they have one or two "crutch words" or phrases that they use repeatedly, often without thinking and sometimes apparently without context. My Greek professor, for example, uses the phrase "rough and ready" to refer to the book's translations of vocabulary words or case usages, his point being that Greek is much more subtle and variable than our text makes out.

What actually prompted me to write this post, however, was his use today of the word "copacetic," which was possibly my high school volleyball coach's favorite word ever. She used it as a general sort of positive interjection, e.g. "Is that play clear? Copacetic!" Dictionary.app offers this definition:

copacetic |ˌkōpəˈsetik| (also copasetic)
adjective informal in excellent order.

Interestingly, the word has no known origin (my etymological dictionary doesn't even have an entry for it), so you can use it however you want.