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New on TheGloss: What I Learned About Success in a Korean Cram School

January 28, 2011

New on Amazon: “Introduction to Logic” (with exercises by Jen Dziura)

January 23, 2011

I spent a good chunk of 2010 writing (putatively hilarious!) logic exercises for Introduction to Logic (14th Edition) by Copi, Cohen, and McMahon. The book is now on Amazon and its purchase is now compulsory for thousands of students worldwide!

While this textbook has been around for quite some time, professors who adopt it now receive access for their students to a rich, interactive “MyLogicLab,” featuring one of my “Logic in the Real World” exercises for every chapter, humorous podcasts also by yours truly, and numerous other, more somber resources.

Pearson’s page for the book includes a link to an online tour (or, try this) — look for my bespectacled little face under the “Logic in the Real World” and “MyLogicLab” portions of the tour.

Here is a brief excerpt of one of my favorite exercises, a contest between two luchadores (“Mexican wrestlers”) who decide to settle their dispute with a battle of logic:

This is round three of five — detailed answer explanations appear afterwards in the book:

There you go! If you have an awesome project you’d like me to infuse with erudite jocularity, I’m easy to contact.

New on TheGloss: Boost Your Career by Never Being Late Again (It’s Not Actually Cute)

January 21, 2011

Ecuador: Photos with Llama, Cincuenta Centavos

January 18, 2011

Behold: the business model of the millennium!

And the results (click to enlarge!):

Also, I ate hominy-on-the-cob from a shack! There was also a kebab containing three baby potatoes, two pieces of unusually chewy sausage, a small piece of green pepper, and half a plantain.

Look at this puppy and his ridiculous adorable puppy feet! Some things are truly cross-cultural.

Photos by Eric Walton.

Ecuador: “They Never Make Statues of Committees”

January 14, 2011

I have often heard the expression “There are no statues of committees” or “They never make statues to committees.” I have written many times on TheGloss about my dislike of group work, bureaucracy, and office politics.

I wasn’t sure the exact wording of the quote or maxim in order to Google it, but after a little poking, I came across this post by TheBaldChemist, “Why You Never See A Statue To A Committee,” commenting on a psychology study about just how bad committee-based decisionmaking is.

I finally found the actual quote here, on a page with many other quotes about committees, all of them unflattering:

I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

So, here:

Photo by Eric Walton.

So, a woman standing nearby informed me that these people are “heroes of the revolution.”

I was like “De la Revolución? Verdad?!” The woman had actually given me a lot more information, but my Spanish is limited.

Upon further reflection, the “heroes of the revolution” are not really a committee. To have an effective revolution, generally you need a number of heroes who, at different times, work both together and independently. In the U.S., we had exactly the same thing: sometimes Jefferson and Adams (and Adams) and Washington, etc., would meet up and have a convention and debate and decide things! And then some of them would go to war and some of them would write stuff and some of them would go to Europe to ask France for help. And then sometimes they’d meet up again!

It’s just that, in an individualistic culture, it wouldn’t occur to use to make a monument of the Founding Fathers working together (I don’t think Mount Rushmore counts. I did find this thing that might look nice in your lawn next to your Christian garden gnome. Ever heard of the “Jefferson Bible”? Geez).

I think, in America, we sort of think that we properly dignify great leaders by giving them individual monuments at least a couple of blocks apart. They need their personal space.

Click for an enormous version of a Statue to a Committee.

New on TheGloss: How to Win When the Workplace Runs on Feelings

January 13, 2011

Ecuador: Getting Down with the Equator at Mitad del Mundo

January 13, 2011

Mitad del Mundo (“The Middle of the World”) is a monument to the equator and those who surveyed the earth in order to figure out where, exactly, the middle was (there is still some dispute about its precise location). Here I am, putatively walking on the equator!

From Wikipedia:

The exact specification of the equator is, in fact, somewhat variable and dependent on the chosen mathematical datum. A local private attraction, known as the Intiñan Solar Museum, claims to be built to mark the true location of the equator. The museum is an amusement for credulous tourists comparable to various “Mystery Spots” around the world. Tour guides and visitors perform demonstrations ostensibly possible only on the equator such as water flowing both counter-clockwise and clockwise down a drain, and balancing eggs on end. The truth, to which some tour guides will admit, is that latitude has no measurable influence on these tricks; they are not related to the proximity of the equator.

This is me standing near the Insectarium, a small bug museum mostly dedicated to one particular variety of unappealing Ecudorian beetle.

This llama was very uninterested in being in my photoshoot.

Click on the images for absolutely enormous versions. Mostly provided in case my parents need a new desktop image. Hi, Mom!

Ecuador: A Trip to the Zoo in Which I Juxtapose My Head with the Heads of Various Equatorial Animals

January 8, 2011

Attempting to get my head into photos with the heads of various animals at the zoo is not a new thing for me. In Argentina in 2009, I spent a really long time trying to get a good Jen-meets-goat photo while the goats tried to eat my iPhone.

This time, fortunately, I had Eric Walton to take photos. I am pleased to report that the sheep and the donkeys completely conformed to their stereotypes, which is why there is a nice sheep photo and no donkey photo.

Sheep are so pleasant! It makes sense that some beleaguered Hebrews would convert to worshipping some guy who promised to separate the sheep from the goats, so to speak. After the Egyptians and the Romans, you’d be all like, “The sheep win in the end? For some reason, that really appeals to me.”

But seriously, I could pet a sheep all day.

Wild boar! Muy agresivo!

Turkey! I poke you! In a nice way!

“A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.”
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Tortoises! You are not so cuddly, but still awesome! I wanted to pet you, but I did not have six hours to wait for you to waddle across your enclosure!

This is what the rest of Guallyabamba (Kichwa for “green plain,” population 12,000) looks like!

This is a statue! But I still like it!

Bullish: How to Get Out of Meetings

January 6, 2011

New Years in Ecuador

January 2, 2011

From this site:

The people here celebrate the eve of 31st of December with the “anos viejos” (old years). Out here you will find human figurines which are stuffed dummies made with paper, sawdust, wood as well as firecrackers…. The stuffed human figurines characterize terrorists, local as well as international politicians and renowned personalities. These dummies represent the old year. Kids as well as women and many a times men dress as women in black. These men, women and children enact the old year’s “widow” role. They move crying and demanding money or candies on the various streets of this country… If the last year has been a very bad one, then many locals as well as the people dressed as figurine’s widow kick or wipe the dummies before they are burned. This is done to have a good year.

In actual practice, very few of the effigies were set on fire. Also, the New Years celebrations wrap up well before midnight, so everyone can go home and eat twelve grapes (one for each month of the new year) with their families. But there certainly were lots of people milling around eating street food, wearing devil horns (and occasional slutty Halloween costumes), and in drag.

Here are some photos by my traveling companion Eric Walton:


Local politicians? Somewhere there was an effigy of “Hitlery Clinton.” Alas.

No one burned Barney. There were actually many Barneys, in a variety of colors.

I guess everything gets commercialized eventually.


The people of Ecuador tend to be very, very short. I was walking behind what I thought were three children when I noticed that one of the “children” was wearing little heeled shoes, and I said to myself, “Oh my god, that’s the mom!” She must have been 3′11. Lots of Ecuadorians are under 4′6. I mention this because short, squat adults have the cutest goddamn babies.

Eric bought me this plate of cornmeal patty, meat, lettuce, beets and onions for $1. It was delicious.

That would be me setting off a Roman candle. Eric’s idea.

This was around 8:30.

Safe and secure….

So, Eric takes pretty good photos. This one, you can click to enlarge.


Who says there’s no point beating a dead horse? This horse effigy was mostly a smoldering wire frame by the time these kids starting tossing trash into the fire and poking it with firecrackers.

This was around 10:30; everyone went home, passed-out babies in their arms, to eat their grapes.

Update: Read Eric Walton’s account of this selfsame event, with all different photos!

Buying Gum From a Five-Year-Old Cigarette Vendor in Ecuador

January 1, 2011

Also, an Ecuadorian dog with painted nails, perhaps for New Years.

Photos by Eric Walton.

Go here for 2010 posts

January 1, 2011

My blog is quirky. Thanks, Wordpress!

For all the posts prior to this one, click here. Or use the sidebar links. Or the search. Seriously, you’ve read blogs before. Cool. Happy New Year!