Man barks at dog .. gets arrested for animal harrassment
This news item snuck straight through to the part of my brain where the memories of my college life reside. I don’t know if any of you have taken the subject titled ‘Software Engineering’. If you are considering this horrendous credit, please back off now. Pull yourself away like an arm near fire. The thing with subjects like this is that you can take an entire chapter or half a book and condense it into one diagram on half a page to prove you understood, but that would not get you marks. It was our firm belief that no examiner likes to see an answer script that runs to two pages (front-to-back) and credit you with understanding the subject. Plus you had to kill three hours in the exam hall and that can’t be done without filling your answer script with stories.
I was always okay with leaving after the first student took the brave step, but could never bring myself to leave first. It had something to do with the look that teachers reserved for you when you did this. Part disgusted, part wondering what this person would make of her life and part amused exasperation. So, I sat there prodding myself for ideas and non-existent explanations. Sometimes, inspiration would strike, and I would write ignoring the envious glances cast by my classmates and the reams of paper I was running through. It is all a performing art I tell you. The moment one bloke or blokess casts you an admiring glance to write through reams of paper, you want to surpass your previous attempts and write more.
It was one such occasion, I was sitting looking quite bored in a Software Engineering exam, and thinking of something to write, when I wrote, “Dog bites man”, is not news-worthy, but when “Man bites dog” is the title, it is news-worthy. See?! It is called ‘Philosophical Insight’ and can be cultivated with the combined effect of a stupor and a reluctance to leave the exam hall. Or maybe, some brilliant Software Engineering author wrote this shining jewel and it made an impression. Nevertheless, I took the title and spun an impressive yarn about this very thing for 5 yards and a bit. If I were any good at drawing, I might even have drawn a dog barking like this, and explained how this does not kindle our sense of wonder, but I didn’t. I have limits.
Professors, I am sure, just feel sorry for the students having to write such muck for so long that they give marks, more out of self-pity than anything else. Think. If they don’t; they get to read our creative genius one more time. It is not as though we are going to improve the quality or quantity of our churn, so they might as well do the less painful thing and make you pass.
In any case, when I saw this news item my heart sang the song from those days, and the fact that that little bit of philosophy made it this far to CBS news is heart-warming.