Question relating to Education Ethics


When engaged in the task of studying for an exam, if one ceases studies directly related to the material being examined and embarks instead upon answering a question requiring lengthy research, and that question is not, directly or indirectly, related to the material being examined, but is related to the general subject matter of the exam, may one, within the bounds of student mental ethics, account the time spent answering said question as study time, or must one account it as time spent goofing off?

For example: When studying for an exam on Federal Civil Procedure, may one, prompted by a chapter on civil discovery under the Federal Rules, stop what one is doing and research rules regarding California Criminal subpoenas, in order to answer a question you've been wondering about for months regarding a predicament your friend was in, and consider the time spent answering that question studying?

A further question: How should one account time spent making posts to blogs asking questions about the educational ethics of tertiary research?


I suspect that if you feel compelled to blog the question, you already know the answer. In this case, at least, I'm certain that you do.

Have you read the Red Dwarf books? I can't recall. I'm re-reading Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers at the moment (concurrent with A Game of Thrones, which is an odd combination) and I've just come across the section on Rimmer's attempts to take the astronavigation exam.

His revision schedule is your Dead Day Study Avoidance Kabuki Dance times thirty. It's really impressive.

Hum. I should re-read it, too. I read them over Thanksgiving break a few years back... Perhaps 3-4 years ago?

How's Game of Thrones coming, by the way?

And, despite being on here now and writing the randomization program, I've actually been surprisingly diligent about studying thus far. There are a number of causes for this, about which I could write a very long post. But, paradoxically, if I wrote a long post about how faithfully I've been studying, it would, in itself, destroy its own subject. Would the post, then, cease to exist?

A Game of Thrones is drawing me in despite my initial resistance.

I had to smirk through the first couple of chapters before I got acclimated to the overwrought fantasy language. You know, the stuff like, "Lord Eddard Stark dismounted from his great black steed and took his blade named Ice from Theon Greyjoy." Really now. That sentence, or the couple of sentences from which I paraphrased that, caused me no end of eye-rolling. The use of the title "Ser" is something which I may never entirely forgive. It's fantasy custom, I know -- I know it embarrassingly well -- but it's still pretentious.

That said, I'm still reading and becoming more interested with each passing chapter. I've just finished the chapter where Daenerys marries Khal Drogo, which is an interesting issue by itself. It's fantasy custom to be unflinchingly brutal to your female characters, particularly the adolescent ones. Marrying them at thirteen to barbarian kings is a good start in that direction. Making their new husbands gentle and respectful, in stark (if you will) contrast to their remaining family which is abusive and manipulative, is an unusual step. It has the potential to make Daenerys something very different from the stock character she's been so far, and I like that. You can see how I'm getting sucked in.

A large part of what's keeping me reading is Martin's teasing way of spooling out the story. You hear one side of the Targaryen-Baratheon Throne Issue. Then, some other things happen. Then, oh, sorry, were you still waiting to hear about that? Here's the other side, although of course, you have to wait for more information before you'll actually understand it.

It's frustratingly effective. I had to get the book out of my bag to check the spelling of the names, and now I'm desperately fighting the urge to discreetly read under my table since there's no one around to see. Mustn't! Have work to do! Knowing me I'd get so distracted I'd answer the next phone call with, "Good morning, Winterfell, Dianna speaking."

I think "one" needs stop fucking around and actually study for "one's" final :-)

I think, and I may be wrong about this, that Martin actually gets better at writing as the book goes on. Not plot-wise, because he's good with plot from the start, but in terms of actually writing the sentences. Part of it, I believe, is that he started out writing fiction, then moved into television in the 80s and early 90s. This was his first return to book writing after that hiatus. I would imagine he'd grown accustomed to writing plots and dialogue, but not descriptions beyond what's necessary to convey to actors and directors what gets done in a scene. So it feels like he goes too far early on and gets a bit flowery, but he tones it down a lot as he goes. Either that or I just got used to it and screened out the silly parts.

I didn't mind Ser, per se, though I haven't encountered it much elsewhere, not having done much serious fantasy reading. I've grown fond of "making water" as a euphemism for urination, just because it's a nice little metaphor that isn't obscene, yet at the same time isn't dainty ("I'm going to tinkle.") I had one linguistic incident inspired by that book, though. I was playing a game with my family when I was first reading Game of Thrones. The game was dragging on and people were getting bored, but we kept playing because the rules mandated some insane number of points to finish. I was getting annoyed and nearly declared that it was a "mummer's farce" and that we should all just stop playing if we weren't having fun. I didn't, though. I kind of wish I had. For the record, while he somewhat oversuses "Mummer's Farce" in Game of Thrones, it gets used a lot less in subsequent books. Maybe an editor spoke to him about it. Still, though, he's not nearly as bad as Tom Wolfe. Look, I love that you think you're ever-so-clever in saying that The Bronx is like a jungle, or that your stock broker is like, or imagines himself to be like, a He-Man toy. I even chuckled the first time I read it. But by the 500th time you trot out the same metaphor in the damn novel, you've managed to turn your clever turn of phrase into a cliche. While that's generally hard to do all by yourself, just because it's hard doesn't make it commendable. But I digress.

As for the plot, yeah, Daenerys is interesting. I like that Martin has so many young characters, because it gives us a chance to watch them grow and change, particularly the Stark kids. You get to see how the different kids turn into different people because of where they end up and what happens to them.

Speaking of Daenerys, I find that Martin writes insufferable, arrogant children very well, like Joffrey and Viserys and Theon Greyjoy (though he won't have spent much time with him yet where you are in the book). He makes it very easy to hate them, yet, at least some times, he also fleshes them out enough that you can see where they're coming from. You might not like them, but you can at least feel bad for them that they've become the spoiled brats that they are.

Oh, hey. Not that it matters at all, but: When you say Baratheon in your head (If you do, indeed, say Baratheon in your head) how do you pronounce it? Because I always tended to pronounce it "Buh-RATH-ee-ON." But somebody was talking about Game of Thrones on an internet radio show recently and she pronounced it "BAR-uh-THAI-on." Again, it's silly and doesn't matter, but I'd like your opinion on it (someone asked Martin at that signing I went to about pronunciations, and his reply was that he doesn't really know how to pronounce the names, or care, so go nuts. He also mentioned having trouble keeping track of the gender of the various characters' horses, which he gets complaining letters about, so you might be on the look-out for that).

Correction: I didn't mean that the title Ser is a standard fantasy usage, but the pompous use of words, names, and titles which have been made more gratuitously flowery by the addition of extra Es and Ys is a standard (and irritating) fantasy phenomenon. It's Ye Olde Fancye Thynge Whyche Ys Notte Atte Alle Lyke Ye Regulare Thynge Wythe Ye Symilare Name.

I have already discovered the extremely good use of insufferable children. The few scenes I've read so far with Viserys have been outstanding for the way that the adults who are tolerantly supporting him are clearly inwardly rolling their eyes and condescending to indulge him. There was a lovely point at which the merchant fellow whose name I can't recall (it begins with an I) slips up and basically calls Viserys a headstrong fool, and Viserys explodes into a hissy fit, I mean, sorry, kingly rage. The merchant is instantly apologetic. "I only meant that kings lack the caution of lesser men," he says, which I find to be a very elegant line. He's very carefully not saying that Viserys isn't an unrestrained boor, and Viserys in his arrogance doesn't seem to notice.

I've already noticed "mummer's farce" once. I should start keeping a tally, perhaps. Or... hey! There's an idea! The dorkiest drinking game ever! Drink at every mummer's farce. Or, if you want to get drunk faster, drink every time Jon Snow is referred to as "the bastard".

By the way, the explanation for the last name Snow struck my fancy. The first time you read the name Jon Snow it doesn't register as, well, anything. Not unusual, not conspicuously anonymous (though now that I think about it it sounds a lot like John Doe), not a name that loving parents wouldn't name their child. But, of course, once it's mentioned it makes perfect sense and is even rather evocative. In a freezing northern latitude, if you want a generic name to give to people without names of their own, what can you find to give them? Snow. Blank, bland, and unfortunately abundant. It can certainly be construed as saying a lot about Winterfell.

Ba-RA-thee-on. The same stress pattern as, say, "monopoly". Not "perspicacious".

I wish I had a copy of my book with me, because I hate to mention anything that happened for fear of spoiling a future plot point. And at the same time the narrative is so spread-out that it's tough to ask "where are you in each of the 8 different narratives right now." It's all the more difficult because Martin brings in new narrators and stops using old ones, so I can't even remember who was a narrator in the first book.

Okay, how about this question: In what locations is the action currently taking place? Winterfell, for sure, and the Eastern Continent. Anywhere else?

Nope. Jon is leaving to join the Night's Watch and Eddard et al are heading south so he can be the King's Hand, but they've just barely not left yet.

Ah, okay. That gives me a clear idea of where you are. By the time you get to the end of the second book you have 9 narrators in 8 different locations, so they branch out somewhat.

(Using, of course, "narrator" not to mean, as it actually means, "Person who tells the story," but rather "Person whom the 3rd person non-omniscient narrator follows closely and tells us what they think."

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