October 8, 2011

"For people of a secular age, Steve Jobs's gospel may seem like all the good news we need."

"But people of another age would have considered it a set of beautifully polished empty promises, notwithstanding all its magical results. Indeed, they would have been suspicious of it precisely because of its magical results."

From "Steve Jobs: The Secular Prophet," by Andy Crouch in the Wall Street Journal.
[T]he genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort [death is "life's change agent"] is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of "the Apple faithful" and the "cult of the Mac" is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty and discarded like a 2001 iPod.
Speaking of "hope"... wait... that's a topic shift I'll make into a separate post.

78 comments:

Ambrose said...

Oh my, speaking on behalf of "people of another age", and using "Indeed"in the same paragraph.

Bender said...

Speaking of "hope"... wait... that's a topic shift I'll make into a separate post.
_______

Can't wait. If you put your hope and trust in man or in things, you are certain to be disappointed. They are all temporary, one day destined to turn to dust.

What good is the iphone and ipad to Steve Jobs now?

SGT Ted said...

I never really bought into the Apple/Mac mystique. In the beginning, their claims to fame were the faster chip architecture. Their claims of OS stability were always overblown and their peripherals were always tightly controlled in the proprietary fashion to the point that no one else could manufacture them, thus guaranteeing that WIN would dominate with their open source model.

Once Pentium broke their backs as far as processor speed is concerned, their only saving grace was to hire Jobs back, where they now dominate in MP3 players, phones and new Gen laptops. People don't seem to recall that Apple was in serious trouble prior to his re-hire.

George said...

The genius of Steve Jobs was that he proved that you could sell technology to ordinary people that was elegant, simple, and ridiculously more expensive than what all the other guys were selling. THAT is real genius.

Quayle said...

Whatever kind of religion Apple is, if you pay attention to Apple's pricing and release strategy it's clear that the collection plate comes around a lot.

J said...

Crouch has a point--but this site is not christian. Your regs are screaming masonic wingnuts aka pagan satanists. They won't understand it.

Robert Cook said...

"What good is the iphone and ipad to Steve Jobs now?"

What good is television to Philo Farnsworth now, or the lightbulb to Thomas Edison, or the polio vaccine to Jonas Salk?

The question is not what good a particular human being's accomplishments are to him after his death, but what good those accomplishments may do for everyone else.

Robert Cook said...

"People don't seem to recall that Apple was in serious trouble prior to his re-hire."

EVERYONE recalls that Apple was in serious trouble prior to his return.

The only ones who may not are those who probably weren't even aware of Apple's existence before the introduction of the iMac, or the iPod, or the iPhone, (and for various populations, there may very well be people who were oblivious to Apple before any one or even the most recent of these).

HT said...

Seems like a lot of hooey to me.

"He believed so sincerely in the "magical, revolutionary" promise of Apple precisely because he believed in no higher power."

Lots of true believers have established very successful businesses in which they also believed fervently.

J said...
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J said...

Cookie the phony trotskyite getting its atheism on.


the i-crap doesn't do anything , except play yr favorite disco--ergo, its worthless, like JobsCo's old Mac boxes, and your rantings

rhhardin said...

Computers could always do amazing things, if you knew enough about what to be amazed by, whether they filled several rooms or fit in your pocket.

It's unaffected by the shiny object packaging.

Ann Althouse said...

I am connected to one Apple product or another virtually 24 hours a day!

Nano, iPhone, iPad, PowerBook, iMac... I move from one to the other throughout the day.

Ann Althouse said...

Apple is everywhere.

br549 said...

Well, I'm sorry he died a protacted and painful death. He put up a valiant fight. My best wishes go out to his family.

Were I his family I think I'd sell my stock, and go enjoy life, which he rarely seemed to do outside of work - while doing similar to what Gates is now doing. Yeah, you can't take it with you.

Geoff Matthews said...

eye roll

rhhardin said...

Is there life before conception.

Actually that's a Gnostic position that's common to American religions, according to Bloom.

Everybody feels he was in on the creation.

It's other people that have to be respectful of it.

rhhardin said...

There's no Apple in my house

I wonder if it's connected with the Fall.

Which is not necessarily different from the Creation, if you were in on it.

rhhardin said...

I do have a faux cell phone on occasion.

When I draw attention taking a picture in public, I undraw it by holding the camera to my ear and listening.

Old photographer's trick.

Robert Cook said...

"Whatever kind of religion Apple is, if you pay attention to Apple's pricing and release strategy it's clear that the collection plate comes around a lot."

A popular canard. Presently, Apple's pricing is very competitive, but even when their products were fairly said to be more expensive than their competitors, it must be added: "at the point of purchase."

Apple computers were and are generally longer lasting as functional devices than many of their competitors. I got my first computer in 2000, a Power Mac G4, and it was my only computer for over seven years, until I upgraded to a Mac Pro in 2007, the computer I still use. That's 7 years and 4 years, respectively, and both computers still work fine, (and I'm nowhere near to even thinking of upgrading from the Mac Pro. The G4 seems slow compared to the Mac Pro, but up the minute I upgraded, it was perfectly adequate to my needs.)

During the same period I used my G4, my father went through three Windows machines. I paid more up front for my G4 than he did for any of his pcs, but his combined cash outlay for those three was at least equal to, and possibly greater than what I paid for the G4.

Moreover, my work PC is a Dell, and, at about two years old, I have more trouble with it than with my four year old Mac Pro, (which is to say, I have no trouble with my Mac Pro).

(Of course, this could also be due to the difference between the Mac OS and the Windows OS, the one being more trouble-free than the other.)

The cost of a product does not begin and end with the price one pays to acquire it, but includes also the cost over time to keep, use, and maintain the procuct, amortized over the productive length of life of the product.

Aurelian said...

Robert Cook:

The elegies used for Steve Jobs now seem to parallel those used for a religious figure, great philosopher or statesman. I do not believe that is warranted. The previous figures I mentioned transcended things and had more to do with who we are, where we are going and what is going to happen after we leave this world. Steve Jobs, while undeniably brilliant, incredibly gifted and, above all was able to see he was and use those characteristics does not rise to the level of a St. Augustine, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, or, more recently MLK or Pope John Paul II.

edutcher said...

Agree with SGT Ted. The whole "i" thing is the geek riff on cool.

It's cool the way some people that GodZero was cool just because he was black (sort of).

Ann Althouse said...

I am connected to one Apple product or another virtually 24 hours a day!

The Blonde calls that, "soap on a rope". She even hates her cell phone.

Apple is everywhere.

9% of it, anyway.

Lucius said...

"Elegance" has its place-- even a noble place-- in life, but simple elegance, devoid of something like Beauty, to say nothing of morality, love, justice, cannot provide a "meaningful" life.

Which is why I'm tormented by the spectacle of stylish women who have nothing better to equip their spiritual life than the occasional Adele download.

TWM said...

I've never owned, nor will I, an Apple product and I'm confident that my life is no worse, and in some ways a tad better than all these Apple fanatics out there.

Robert Cook said...

For those who say, "I have no Apple products in my house," your life has still been changed by Apple.

Apple, under Jobs' direction both early on and latterly, was the computer/tech company that influenced and changed the direction of the entire field. The products you may use by Dell or Acer or LG or Samsung or even Microsoft have all been shaped by what Apple did, and even if not always first, almost always better.

No one can really point to any other tech company that had comparable dominant influence over the field. Microsoft is dominant only as a result of its ubiquity, a ubiquity resulting from Gates' coup in having his OS and Office software included with virtually all non-Apple computers that people bought back when the purchase of a pc for the home was taking off, (and still so to this day). People weren't buying a Microsoft computer, (as such), they were buying a computer that happened to have Microsoft software included.

Apple, under Jobs, has changed the world, even for those who eschew their products.

sorepaw said...
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J said...

He's in Hell most likely.


Where white-zionist trash go, including billionaires.

Robert Cook said...

"Apple, under Jobs, has changed the world, even for those who eschew their products."

By way of illustration, I add that Christianity has changed the world, even for those of us who are not Christians.

(This is not to compare Apple to a religion or Jobs to Christ, for the many literal-minded out there who must have things spelled out for them.)

sorepaw said...
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john bord said...

If there had been abortion demand in the 50's, would of Jobs mother of given him up for adoption.

Wonder how many Jobs lie in the landfill of aborted fetuses?

Robert Cook said...

"He's in Hell most likely."

He's nowhere, except in our memories and in the material world around us.

William said...

Capitalism produces any number of enterprising souls who think of clever ways of bundling mortages, but it also produces Steve Jobs. The game is worth the candle.....The left likes to believe that there is some altruistic strain in humanity that will cause men of genius to work endless hours to improve our common good. Perhaps, but if you wish to consistently harness the best efforts of the brightest people, I recommend offering them huge, stinking piles of money for their work.....I'm not really a techophobe but every time I see a new gadget on the market, my heart sinks. My cell phone is years out of date and has all sorts of little buttons and functions that I don't understand. I get dumber and more out of it with each passing year.

Robert Cook said...

"I hope Cook realizes that under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-Il, or even Fidel Castro, people like Steve Jobs would have been shot, or sent off in cattle cars to break rocks until they died."

Very possibly, but they might also have have recognized his utility and put him to work for their regimes. But your comment assumes I am a proponent or admirer of any of those you mention, an assumption without basis, (as assumptions often are).

Curious George said...

If we all agree that Steve Jobs is the one true God and Savior can we talk about something else?

viator said...

Steve Jobs provided the very best examples of hardware and software that was part of a great revolution: the internet, Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, portable computers, PCs, Youtube, camera phones, Wi-Fi, e-mail, cloud computing, video phones, open sourcing, community collaboration, blogging, alternative media.
They are intrinsic to a great world wide paradigm shift underway. There is, so far, something fundamentally democratic and liberating about these tools. My bet is that we all end up in a somewhat better world. A more informed and well grounded world.

J said...
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J said...

The products you may use by Dell or Acer or LG or Samsung or even Microsoft have all been shaped by what Apple did, and even if not always first, almost always better

You don't know fuck about computing ,do you. Mac was nearly gone by 95 or so, and their gear was slow--nearly worthless. Win 95--not great--smoked the Mac gear. That was until 2002 or so. OS X was better but overpriced (ie for $3000 you could match a $500 PC), still slow, and mostly for graphics. Ask any real gamer about PCs vs Crapple. And i-gear--who cares. For Disco boys ,like you

rhhardin said...

For those who say, "I have no Apple products in my house," your life has still been changed by Apple.

Apple, under Jobs' direction both early on and latterly, was the computer/tech company that influenced and changed the direction of the entire field. The products you may use by Dell or Acer or LG or Samsung or even Microsoft have all been shaped by what Apple did, and even if not always first, almost always better.


I use a Dell laptop running windows and Cygwin for the unix console interface.

Something that would be simpler if it were just unix, but you have to buy what they sell nowadays.

I count on my display right now eight unix console windows, and this browser of course under native windows.

The shiny object effect does not work on everybody.

rcocean said...

Jobs wasn't a Capitalist, he was a entrepreneur who built things people wanted.

He has little in common with George Soros or the games being played on Wall Street.

People are perfectly correct to protest Wall Street and praise Jobs.

Robert Cook said...

"Ask any real gamer about PCs vs Crapple."

Who gives a fuck about gamers or gaming? Talk about the parochial concerns of a cohort of the insignificant!

J said...

Jobs wasn't a Capitalist, he was a entrepreneur who built things people wanted

correctio--Jobs was an entrepreneur who had the capital to hire engineers and programmers (Jobs was neither) to build things some people wanted. Not a financier, but stilll part of capitalism.

J said...

Lots of people care about gaming ,and having fast responsive gear--even in business contexts-- Cookie the dumbass. Certainly more than they do about photoshop or whatever lame graphics Crapple app. you use.

Paul said...

Yea but Steve Jobs was rich... and Obama tells us rich people don't pay their fair share.

We can look at doers like Jobs or 'community organisers' like Obama.

I'll take Jobs and his kind any day over community organisers.

edwardroyce said...

And people gloss over or forget that quite a few of Jobs preferred devices were complete duds and many successful Apple devices were made in spite of Jobs rather than with his help.

Then there is the whole NeXt computer where a harddrive was forgone in preference to a glacially slow optical drive along with a $600 magnesium case for the computer.

Or Steve Jobs hatred of cooling fans. Something that has caused engineering failures of vast dimensions over the decades as computers overheated, cases cracked, motherboards warped and embedded chips popped out of sockets like popcorn.

In some ways he was a genius. But he had his faults too and understanding those faults gives a clearer picture.

traditionalguy said...

Jobs was a design and marketing genius.

But I always thought his only philosophy or doctrine was striving for success measured by money in the mega billions.

That was what made him free to claim that he had defeated the parents who had abandoned him. He did it.

I admired him for fighting so hard for that goal.

Beth said...

In 1972, at 12 years old, I carried one of those shoe-box sized tape recorders in my backpack, with its single white earphone, and listened to tapes of Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Creedence. At the time I thought "this really ought to be smaller, and have a stereo headphone jack!" (I think of that time now as the day I invented the Walkman!). Sometime in 1980, I got to play with a pre-Walkman device that a ski resort rented out, and then the Walkman arrived the next year. That was the height of music portability until Walkman CD players came about.

In 2000, I had the little Rio music player, with a 256mb card that could hold two albums. And then the iPod arrived and I knew I had been waiting on it since I was a young girl.

I'm struck by the phrase "dusty and discarded like a 2001 iPod" in this article. All those prior media I discarded, but why discard a working 2001 iPod? Even if you've gotten a better or larger iPod, they all make nice little USB hard drives. They were not designed to become obsolete. Obviously we're meant to see Apple as shoveling piles of new! and better! over each year's previous release, but that's a canard. My first iPhone lasted no less than any cell phone's cycle, and I'm still using a 3GS and love it. I have older model iPods in each car. I'm currently using a 2006 15" Macbook Pro; it's a solid workhorse, and I'll be sad to retire it eventually. By the time it will no longer run an advanced enough OS for me to use it effectively, I will have gotten more than a typical laptop lifetime out of it. We have an Apple G5 acting as a media server with a PowerPC chip and it's still quite useful.

I work on Windows and Apple systems, and supervise classrooms full of XP machines, but I wouldn't have that position had I not been lucky enough to be working at a college newspaper in 1985, where the adviser walked in with three Macs and one 20 MB hard drive to network them. Up until then, I'd left the computer tasks to the CS majors on our staff and figured I'd eventually learn enough to write my papers in a word processor. But working on a Mac was like being welcomed in to a new community, and before long I abandoned my anxieties and started learning how to work on other systems (I still miss my Commodore 64). Since then, too, one on one, no Windows machine, no music device, no phone, has stacked up to its Apple competitor for elegance, simplicity and effectiveness, in my experience.

I'm just one English instructor out of many, and being a Mac user put me on the path, through a long line of work in and out of academics, to being able to distinguish myself as my department's technology coordinator. I owe Jobs for that.

I cannot think of anyone in public life who so directly and positively changed my own life as Steve Jobs did.

Robert Cook said...

"But I always thought his only philosophy or doctrine was striving for success measured by money in the mega billions."

I don't think anyone who knew him or knew much about him would agree his philosophy was a "striving for success measured by money...."

He did want to be successful, but as measured by his standards, which had to do with making great things.

"That was what made him free to claim that he had defeated the parents who had abandoned him."

Is he quoted as having said that?

somefeller said...

I don't think anyone who knew him or knew much about him would agree his philosophy was a "striving for success measured by money...." He did want to be successful, but as measured by his standards, which had to do with making great things.

Exactly. Steve Jobs was one of those people who really did seem to think that money was just a way of keeping score and not an end in itself. He was an artist and an intellectual first and a capitalist second. The capitalist part of him was important and not to be denied, but people (generally those whose political and cultural views Jobs would disdain) who say that aspect of him was the most important aspect get it wrong. He wasn't a demigod and he certainly made mistakes, but the world is a much better place because of what he created.

Jose_K said...

really?
My first alst Apple was an Apple II plus.
Thanks to him ebooks are more expensive, he sided with publishing houses against amazon. They are uneder investigation for colussion in the EU
People is too stupid for use my awfully designed products.
Steal ideas from Samsung and then suit then to ban them from selling a cheaper batter working product.
Basic integer , apple
Floating point basic: microsoft
Only software running on Mac: microsoft because he did not allowed independant developers
Too expensive and lousy working
For more:

http://gawker.com/5847344

http://gawker.com/5847344

Sam Hall said...

Remember, the only reason Jobs got to build the iPhone, iPad and the rest was because Bill Gates bailed out Apple to the tune of $200 million and let them port Word and Excel to the Mac.

Also, the Mac's OS is a port of UNIX and the point-and-click interface was stolen from Xerox.

So, just what did Jobs do?

HT said...

Oh, ok, Beth you're an English instructor. No wonder you write so well. I enjoyed your ode to Apple.

"All those prior media I discarded, but why discard a working 2001 iPod?"

EXACTLY! I love to re-sell and I love the re-use. To think people throw perfectly good stuff away. Well, I guess we all do it from time to time. I live in a very large apt building. You would not believe the wonderful stuff I find by the trash room. I sell it online.

I am using my late mother's cel. No blackberry or iPhone for me.

"They were not designed to become obsolete."

Ok, now there, I'm going to take the operative word to be "were." I think now, things have changed a smidge. I am obviously far from an expert, but I talk to them a good bit. One man told me that Apple makes nothing of its own anymore, they outsource everything. He said they really don't have the same fight they used to when China rips them off, and as we know there are entire fake Apple stores set up in China. I think nowadays, the manufacturing is a lot crappier than it used to be, and I will be casting my lines elsewhere for really well-made wares. I will wait until I hear what those are, and almost regardless of price, I will pounce once I know. That is what I did with Apple a few years back, but not what I will do with them anymore.

Great writing, Beth.

sorepaw said...
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sorepaw said...
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HT said...
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Rick67 said...

When I first read Jobs' quote about death and the way it shapes the present, I first thought of Qohelet aka the book of Ecclesiastes. Which centers largely around the observation that "everybody dies - and it could be tomorrow - so then what do we do?" The difference between Qohelet and Jobs is the bare attention Qohelet pays to G-d. But even then Qohelet describes G-d as somewhat inscrutable. Nobody knows what G-d is doing. He's put "eternity in our heart" so we know - contra Jobs? - that there's more than just this life/reality. But other than that... Ecclesiastes scholar Bill Brown (with whom I had the privilege and joy of studying this book) would say Qohelet invites us to receive with gratitude the moments of joy G-d places into our lives in the form of family, friends, work (which is unusual and interesting), food and drink.

An interesting piece by my old friend and university classmate Andy. We can admire and respect Jobs and his contributions but also recognize the limitations(?) of his worldview.

Rick67 said...

On a slightly related note... I have an iPhone but otherwise have resisted stubbornly the efforts of Mac fanatics to convert me. I respect Mac engineering, quality, and especially their Unix-based OS.

The main reason I resist going Mac is I love freedom. Passionately. And if I go Mac suddenly I have to use their stuff, at their prices, and I lose most of the ability to repair my own hardware on my own terms. I can repair my own laptops and desktops and yes have done so many times. Not so sure about Macs.

Until recently I was an avid gamer (going cold turkey right now) and one *can* play Windows games on Macs with a little extra effort. But how easily can one customize a Mac? Therein lies the rub. I like having choice and control over my hardware.

To me going Mac is like living on a luxurious cruise ship. It's great. But good luck buddy if you want some other way into Mexico.

BJM said...

@tradionalguy

That was what made him free to claim that he had defeated the parents who had abandoned him. He did it.


Not really if we are to believe what has been written the past few days, he repeated the cycle.

"I wanted my kids to know me," Jobs was quoted as saying by Pulitzer Prize nominee Walter Isaacson, when he asked the Apple Inc co-founder why he authorized a tell-all biography after living a private, almost ascetic life.

"I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did," Jobs told Isaacson in their final interview at Jobs' home in Palo Alto, California.
"

However he left them between $6.5 and $8.7 billion, so there's that.

SGT Ted said...

Actually, if it weren't for gamers, the push to upgrade to faster and faster machines wouldn't be happening nearly as fast, nor would it be as inexpensive as it is today. Gamers are the major market that pushes the demand for the bleeding edge in faster processor speeds amongst ordinary computer users.

Phil 3:14 said...

Apple is everywhere.

I imagine they're required in Madison.

BJM said...

@Cook

Who gives a fuck about gamers or gaming? Talk about the parochial concerns of a cohort of the insignificant!

You are behind the cyber curve aren't you?

As I type ten of millions of gamers are connected to or downloading from online game sites not the usual suspects of first-person shooters, geeky RPG or casino games, but adventure, strategy, time managment, puzzle and word games, and interestingly enough the majority are women.

There is also a huge selection of family/kiddie games online.

Game playing is also highly recommended for seniors to keep their mental facilities sharp and they're flocking to online game sites and forums.

Big Fish Games and this terrifingly addictive Scrabble site are the top sites at the moment.

sorepaw said...
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Robert Cook said...

Sorepaw, you're still waiting for me to answer your stupid question?!

Cripes! Since I last visited this thread I've gone out, run some errands, come back and had lunch, napped, listened to some music, read further into a book, spoke to family on the phone....

Maybe you need something more than this to fill your time.

sorepaw said...
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Doc Merlin said...

Nonsense he isn't offering hope. "You re already naked." isn't hope. He is saying that you are already scewed (by death) so you shouldn't fear failure.

Beth said...

Rick67, I've repaired Mac laptops and desktops. Nothing heavyweight: replacing keyboards, hard drives, memory, video cables, power supply. I've had to do troubleshooting on drives using drive saver software. There used to be a site called macfixit.com, it might now be called ifixit.com, that had schematics and videos for pretty much any repair task on a mac.

I don't know what you mean about having to use their software. There's no trouble finding software for macs, from all sorts of providers.

Beth said...

thanks, HT.

Robert Cook said...

"I don't know what you mean about having to use their software. There's no trouble finding software for macs, from all sorts of providers."

Yep...one can even run Microsoft's Windows OS on Apple computers now, if one wishes or must run a piece of software that is only available on Windows...Linux, too.

By the way MacFixIt is still called MacFixIit...it was bought by CNet.com and it seems a little different in format than before, but it's still there under the same name.

sorepaw said...
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Rick67 said...

@Beth - Thanks for the feedback. I wasn't aware that fixing your own Mac was that feasible. Good to know.

Robert Cook said...

"I see that Robert Cook is about as eager to discuss his true feelings regarding Josef Vissarionovich Stalin as Cedarford is to discuss his true feelings regarding Adolf Hitler."

Hahahahaha!

What a dope.

sorepaw said...
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Robert Cook said...

I find it much more pleasant to laugh at people who make baseless assumptions about me and challenge me to defend myself against their imaginings, (causing such dopes--er, folks--to further and more stupidly assume--or, rather, to pretend to believe and thus accuse, for rhetorical purposes--that by my not feeling the slightest obligation to play along, I indict myself).

Hahahahahaha! Have a good day, professor!

sorepaw said...
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sorepaw said...
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Robert Cook said...

"Since Cook has admitted to being a game-player...."

WRONG.

Gee, Sourpuss, I sure hope you're more intellectually honest with your students than you are as a commenter here. You seem awfully ready to demand that others defend themselves against accusations you have made, and to claim that others have "admitted" to behavior you have alleged.

I'll bet your "Rate My Professor" rankings are wonderful.

sorepaw said...
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Robert Cook said...

"Game-playing.

"Admitted."


Hahahahaha!

You really are a dope. And you claim to be a professor?

Your poor students.

sorepaw said...
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