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Thursday, June 24, 1999

  • Silver medal for quarterly
  • About electronic mailing lists
  • Women in American colleges
  • Corrections and more information

Silver medal for quarterly

The New Quarterly, the resident literary magazine at UW, has once again picked up a silver medal at the National Magazine Awards.

Events at UW

The career development seminar series resumes today with "Interview Skills: Selling Your Skills" at 1:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 1020.

The department of statistics and actuarial science presents Tom DiCiccio of Cornell University at 3:30 today (Math and Computer room 5158), speaking on "Simulation Methods for Higher-Order Interference".

And tomorrow will be job ranking day for co-op students, with ranking forms available at 10 a.m. and due back at 4 p.m. Amber Christie of the Co-op Student Advisory Group says that organization is planning a Ranking Relief Event -- "we will be giving away freezies and we will be playing music with live dance demos in the pit and outside Needles Hall," from 10 a.m. to noon tomorrow.

The prize was for Daniel Coleman's essay "The Babies in the Colonial Washtub," which appeared in the magazine's summer 1998 issue. Stories in The New Quarterly stories won the gold medal for fiction in 1996 and 1997, but this is the first time the magazine has picked up honours for an essay.

Kim Jernigan, one of the magazine's editors, said: "We were enormously pleased to make a showing in the essay category since, as a literary magazine publishing mostly fiction and poetry, we didn't think we had a chance against mainstream journals like Saturday Night and Toronto Life. Essays are what they do. We generally publish one essay per issue, a personal essay that treats literary topics in a way we hope is both intellectually provocative and accessible."

The spark that ignited Daniel Coleman's essay was a lecture he attended on the Royal Ontario Museum's controversial "Into the Heart of Africa" exhibit. A student of post-colonial literature at the time, he had expected to enter into the superior laughter of an audience easily dismissive of colonial attitudes. He was brought up short by a slide of someone he knew, the Canadian missionary Ethel Titcombe. Coleman's own parents had been missionaries in Ethiopia, where he was born, and the Titcombes were family heroes.

The theory he had imbibed in the classroom came suddenly into conflict with his lived experience. The result is a meditation on the moral complexities of colonial exchange.

Coleman, currently a professor of English at McMaster University, was pleased at this cross-over success. In an era when academics are accused of writing in an increasingly exclusive theoretical language, Coleman's essay is a demonstration of the ability to communicate emotionally and intellectually complex ideas to a larger audience. The silver medal comes with a $500 award.

About electronic mailing lists

UW computer consultants got a flurry of questions last month while staff members were using electronic mail to debate how often payday should come. The calls to consultants weren't about pay, though. "We suddenly received many requests from people asking how to filter their e-mail," says Carol Vogt, who heads the "electronic workplace" group in the information systems and technology department.

The incident shows a weakness of the "listserv" method of electronic communication -- a system for distributing mail to a large number of people who share a common interest. When some of them aren't interested, or when the chatter gets too frequent, or when somebody uses the listserv for mail that should go to just one person, users get annoyed.

The same sort of thing happened a few days later when some mail messages intended for the administrators of the UW financial system was sent instead to a listserv that reaches all the users of the financial system across campus.

Listservs are mentioned just briefly in an information page about e-mail that's maintained on the web by Vogt's Electronic Workplace team. "Each time someone in the group sends a message to the listserv that message is e-mailed to each member of the group," the page notes. "This is a good case for using filtering to have all the messages from the group put into its own mailbox."

That's easier to do with some kinds of mail software than with others. The web page gives step-by-step instructions to help Eudora, Netscape and Outlook Express users, for example, but Pine users don't have a filtering option.

More about listservs can be found on a web page from the University of Michigan. There's also a brief page from Plattsburgh that includes this important advice:

If your post is relevant only to one member of the list, please contact that person using personal e-mail. . . . Avoid "Me, too" and "Yes" messages. Your contribution should move the discussion along, not just make it longer.
Listservs (sometimes called "mailing lists") are used many places at UW -- by the faculty association as well as the staff association, by faculties and individual departments to reach all their members with a single address, and so on. "The vehicle we use for listservs on campus is a program called Majordomo," Vogt says.

Across the Internet UW, there are thousands of voluntary listservs that function much like magazines for their subscribers, on academic, social and recreational topics. One list of lists, called Liszt, currently boasts 90,095 of them, including one "for activists in the Kitchener-Waterloo area" and several UW-based lists dealing with statistics, survey research and data mining.

Women in American colleges

An American report, issued last week, cites community colleges as being more supportive of women's educational needs than are universities, and recommends changes that degree-granting institutions can make to assist women in earning their degrees.

"Many women take non-traditional paths through college because of factors such as parental responsibilities, academic anxieties, burdensome credit-card debt, and insufficient knowledge about available financial aid," says a summary from the news service Academe Today.

Commissioned by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, the report bases its findings on interviews with 1,070 male and female students in 10 focus groups. Based on the results, it divided students into three groups, many of whom follow a circuitous route to a degree. While many move from high school to post-secondary education, others move from high school to work, some of whom later leave work to pursue college or university.

While the report, "Gaining a Foothold: Women's Transitions Through Work and College", praises community colleges for being "affordable, flexible, and swift in adapting to the requirements of today's students," it suggests that other post-secondary institutions could follow their lead in providing better information about financial aid and more flexible child-care services.

Corrections and more information

I have left undone those things which I ought to have done, and I have done those things which I ought not to have done. Wherefore, here are a goodly number of corrections, clarifications and updates to things that have been in the Bulletin lately. I take none of [Thunder icon] the blame, though, for yesterday's prediction of a thunderstorm that didn't come to pass; that's what the Environment Canada forecast said. That's also what the forecast for today says -- "scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms". We shall see.

They're also experiencing "intermittent rain" in the southeastern United States -- not the best weather for a solar car race. UW's Midnight Sun V came in 11th of the 29 cars crossing from North Carolina into South Carolina yesterday in Sunrayce '99, and is now ranked 12th overall. I speculated yesterday that there had been "car trouble" on Tuesday; in fact, the report is that "the tactical decision was taken to spend the day charging the batteries. It is hoped that this strategic decision will benefit the team in the coming days as bad weather and overcast conditions are expected for the remainder of the race."

Yesterday I omitted to mention one of the important events taking place -- a late afternoon reception in honour of Pat Rowe, the dean of graduate studies since 1991. She will finish her term August 31 (to be succeeded by Jake Sivak of the school of optometry) and return to academic work in the psychology department, where one of her research interests continues to be studying co-op as a mode of higher education. Yesterday's reception was a chance to say thanks and farewell to Rowe with just a few summer weeks left in her deanship.

Something else I should likely have mentioned yesterday is that all UW graphics outlets "will be closed for a short time today from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m.", according to a memo from that department.

[Console panel] "I imagine others have already told you," an alert reader wrote yesterday, "but the picture in today's Daily Bulletin is of the 360/75 console, not the 1620. The 1620 console wasn't nearly as big. In fact, very few computers of any era could compete with the 360/75 when it came to size of the console panel." And of course I should have known it wasn't the 1620, since the 1620 was the first computer with which I ever came into contact, programming in a primitive language called FORGO in the summer of 1967.

"Just a note," writes math student Amy Green, "about your comments on the Pink Tie cheque presented Saturday." (That would be the cheque for $127,857 that mathematics graduates gave UW at convocation.) "It was more like $60,000 over the previous record," whereas I had said $50,000 more, "and of the three people presenting it (Brian Neill, myself and Candice Parado) only Candice received her BMath that day. Brian and I are currently in our last term."

Also about convocation gifts: "just a clarification," said a note from another reader, "the engineering faculty's student fund, WEEF, stands for Waterloo Engineering Endowment Fund, not Waterloo Endowment Engineering Foundation as was stated in the Bulletin." Actually, according to its web page, it's the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation; I'm not sure which of us was closer to correct.

Perhaps the oddest correction I've received has to do with the Daily Bulletin for Friday, June 24, 1994 -- five years ago today. E-mail came just last week from a web user in Québec who had been doing a web search about St. Jean Baptiste Day and ran into that ancient Bulletin, which called the day "the unofficial national holiday in Quebec". In fact, it's extremely official, my correspondent says, having been established as the Fête Nationale by the National Assembly in 1977.

And . . . the study on Canadian tourism, by David Wilton and Tony Wirjanto of UW's economics department, which I mentioned yesterday got even more publicity than I'd realized. There was, for instance, a sizeable article in the National Post.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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