the week in brief

Let’s see…

Well, I celebrated my three-years-in-Bahir Dar anniversary. I drank more ethanol than any other week in my life. Taught foreigners for the first time.

Foreigners.

I hear a significant proportion of one of my new classes consists in Eritrean refugees. And that was why I was stressed to a higher degree than the usual level of stress that I experience before starting a new class; or before any class for that matter. I mean, I am representing Etyopia here, people! So my English has got to be on point; I have to bring my A game on subject matter. And my better self says to remember that I am here to teach, regardless of creed, race or color.

The class went aight. One of those classes.  Couldn’t tell Etyopian from Eritrean. They all channel apathy in the same way. I tell you–you cannot tell them apart! And I am not trying to channel Teddy here, trust me.

And yet, I tried to be careful about my wording and got queasy when:

  • a student used cluster to define the aggregates formed by hydrophobic interactions
  • I likened hydrophobic interactions (and the freedom of water molecules that they engender) to hoarding prisoners in a single cell and with the minimum number of guards, the guards being water molecules
  • I used the enemy of my enemy is my friend to point out that,  even though they don’t possess a marked affinity for each other,  non-polar substances  come together in the face of a common enemy–water

I learned that Chinese scientists succeeded in cloning a sheep with zero cholesterol ergo making it something to be devoured with no worries. Get the fuck outta here ETV! How long are people going to go on demeaning my good fellow cholesterol and get away with it scot free? Feel free to Google the actual news.  This week I discovered Yeshi Demelash. Voice like Mikaya (which I don’t hate), and I’m getting sick of patriotic songs (Etyopia, Habesha, Arenguade BiCHa Qey, wené, Abay, andegna, wezete; why don’t they sing about the all the good contributions of cholesterol for a change) but a decent album all the same.  And to my surprise, she is the judge from idol! I don’t watch that much TV.

Although the video does not show it, she does a nice riff at the end. A riff, I hear that’s what it’s called.

One

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prolix is such a sexy word! it sounds like a cross between a kickass antidepressant and an expensive watch!!

In my new capacity as the course chairperson (CCP) of biochemistry, I declare the floor open for yet another edition of jibber jabbering.

I have tried to come up with an image that best reflects my stand on the whole issue of binomial distributions and the grading of students; and this is what I’ve got. I believe, that at any given moment in time, either students or teachers-rarely together on the same side-are seen to be holding the red or the green lasso, trying to, and succeeding in pulling this the-snout-of-some-big-fish-looking graph to the far right or left:

It’s hard for students and teachers to be on the same page, in both senses of the phrase. A while back, T introduced me to the concept of COIKS. I concede, it is an affliction with which I have to do battle every now and then. So it was brazen of me when I decided that it was a good idea to make my students hip to what COIKS is, to the fact I am a confessed sufferer from it and that, should they sense that I am having a bout, to tell me right away so that we, as a group dedicated to basking in the glorious light emanating from this beautiful sun that goes by the name Biochemistry, make amends right there and then-not let a single strand of the light pass by unenjoyed.

Then I thought what if I failed in explaining to them what COIKS was?

And that was  why…

One article I read on the topic cracked me up. After a session of a reverend preaching his ass off about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, a member of the congregation goes “From what that preacher said someone might get the idea that Saul and Paul were the same person.” 🙂

One of my students joined a monastery. I was administering a test and he hands in his paper midway. I tell him there was plenty of time left. I learn that he will not be coming back anymore and he would leave a letter explaining his reasons with the student’s representative.  We cross paths later and he tells me that he is following his calling. I tell him, twice, to pray for me-I hope it was heartfelt and free from the blemish of condescension, because, I will be the first to admit it, I am an asshole.

Here are some of the comments that I received from people whom I told about the kid:

Enante yePeda sewoch sewun eyasmererachihu gedam masgebat jemerachihu aydel?!

“Gedam yemihed sew lemanim saynager new yemitefaw; yihe lij memelesu aykerim.”

“You should have advised him not to go.”

But set of opinions on the matter is: one would be very lucky to find out one’s true calling like the kid has; he is going to make, forgive the expression, one hell of a monk; and I really hope he will have me in his prayers.

We have finally done it! We have done away with happiness! We have  got the keys to its jail cell, baby!

YeDesta Beshita aka Rinderpest has been eradicated. I wonder what would have happened if there was no Rinderpest to begin with, say in 1896. The Battle of Adwa would have been a much shorter (shorter than short), much earlier affair -it might even have been fought at a different place. The Etyopian army would have then proceeded to free Eritrea from the grip of the Italians. Maybe Etyopia and Eritrea would have been one big happy family. Maybe the Etyopian political atmosphere would have been much different. Much less bloodshed in the 20th century, maybe…

I suspect, in addition to the lives of cattle and people that it claimed during the Kifu Qen, Rinderpest just may have been responsible for the loss of far too many lives and for a certain Etyopia stagnating through the years as a sad tale mired in a concoction of almost everything bad known to Homo sapiens.

For this reason I say, fuck you Morbillivirus! May you rot in hell,  you 15, 690 to 15, 948  nucleotides  freak!

Funny thing is that the eradication of Riderpest was announced from the FAO headquarters in Rome.

One

timihirt

 

It’s hard wearing boots man! Sure, there is the confidence boost in front of street crossings turned ponds after a downpour; just rev up your tank of a shoe and cross, while unfortunate members of your species are reduced to skirting around the pond; and around the idea of crossing the pond.

There is also the korokonch and the chiqa

But try running from a coming rain with them boots on. I said just try it! And the boots’ insides are lined with fur to boot; imagine wearing boots in anticipation of rains that never come and your feet getting cooked.

Why the hell did I buy those frigging boots? I mean, I am a grown ass man, dawg! Why am I trying to get my rapper on?

Getting back to the regularly scheduled program…

This year, 300,000 students are set to graduate at different levels from different institutions

Bahir Dar University’s graduation day is tomorrow

the venue

To all the young bloodz -enjoy it while it lasts!

Poor souls!

Then comes the confusion, the despair, the self-doubt, self-hate, self-abuse, self-ass kicking …., all the bad shit –lehulachihum bayhon leabzagnwochachihu

 And if you are among the lucky few, you would join some path which, nine times out of ten, is not the right path for you.

But a path is better than no path at all, right?

Make sure your pictures are taken aplenty; maybe someday, you can do a “before and after”

Don’t listen to me; I am just a pathetic pessimist.

Or am I?

Many people (I cannot remember all their names) agree that the state of the Etyopian educational system is an unmitigated disaster.

A colleague told me this; he says it is a true story. In a small town, the same town of Bekele fame, (this town’s inhabitants, it seems, have got the knack for the weird and the funny) a homeroom teacher, a unit leader and a director visit a house to admonish a certain Ato Ha and Weizero Le about their child not attending class. They berate them for preventing their offspring from coming to school after all the diligence he has shown to reach grade five.

“Why isn’t your kid coming to school? Do you rather your brilliant kid is stuck doing chores when he could become the next Tibebe? (it is still my plan -being the man of the millennium, one helluva a role model)

The poor couple are flustered, befuddled and the whole enchilada of synonyms. They go: “But our son has been dead for the last three years!?!?!?”

Here is what happened: in the self-contained educational system, no student, dead or alive, is supposed to fail grades one through four, hence obviating the need for updating name lists. The kid, in such a manner that puts Dead Souls to shame, in such a way that  gives a whole new dimension to “distance education,” has managed to do 2→3→4→5, only for his absence to be discovered during 5th grade roll call.

The school’s administration still harbors a sneaking suspicion that the parents are deliberately tampering with their kid’s bright future of becoming the next…

I spent some time around a professor who is involved in an effort to revamp the Etyopian educational system. Although I couldn’t attend all of his presentations, from what little I’ve heard, he raises pretty decent points -points that were, in his own words “appeals to your conscience” “…since you guys, by chance or predestination, are at the helm of affairs…”

More about his vision on this site

Do you believe in normal distributions? Are people’s achievements supposed to conform to “some” curve?

…The myth of the bell curve has occupied a central place in the theory of inequality (Walker, 1929; Bradley, 1968). Apologists for inequality in all spheres of social life have used the theory of the bell curve, explicitly and implicitly, in developing moral rationalizations to justify the status quo. While the misuse of the bell curve has perhaps been most frequent in the field of education, it is also common in other areas of social science and social welfare. When Abraham de Moivre made the first recorded discovery of the normal curve of error (to give the bell curve its proper name) in 1733, his immediate concern was with games of chance. The normal distribution, which is nothing more than the limiting case of the binomial distribution resulting from random operations such as flipping coins or rolling dice, was a natural discovery for anyone interested in the mathematics of gambling.

 De Moivre was unhappy, however, with the lowly origins of his discovery, He proceeded to raise its status by attributing to it an importance beyond its literal meaning. In his age, this could best be done by claiming that it was a proof of the existence of God. He announced:

And thus in all cases it will be found, that although Chance produces irregularities, still the Odds will be infinitely great, that in process of Time, those irregularities will bear no proportion to the recurrency of that Order which naturally results from Original Design …. (Walker, 1929:17)…

 Read the whole thing here.

So tomorrow is graduation. I will not be coming to campus (all the girigir !,)  meaning I will probably not be checking on this post. But I am not done here, Insha’Allah I will continue on Sunday. I have got a normal distribution in mind…

Half

Sunday

I see graduates having their pictures taken next to every conceivable kind of bush…

So now, 2.5 million lives later, South Sudan is a new country. Question is, how are we going to interpret the loss of all that life: a sacrifice made in order to win freedom or a loss that could have been avoided if people were not so fond of acting a fool. I can’t even say who the bigger fool in this case is. Same thing with Etyopia and Ertra,…

Maybe tomorrow, I will finish this thing…

Monday -music

Tuesday -the most anticlimactic verse ever:

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