Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wiki whacked, plus Jessica Simpson, ideal sorority recruit

The blog and I have been angry at each other. We weren't speaking. Now we're trying to make up.

Just read about the trend of universities banning citations from Wikipedia on research papers. The NY Times has this story.

Look, Wikipedia is handy but unreliable. The entries are compiled sort of like info passed around in a game of telephone. One source adds something, then someone else edits, then more info comes in. Then it all ends up as a mishmash of inaccurate factoids. Don't trust it. Primary sources only.

Also ran across a little ditty about the Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University in Indiana. To boost recruiting and change the image, all the fat, homely, smart or ethnic girls were kicked out. Twenty-three of them. Out. A dozen pretty ones with good wardrobes were invited to stay. Six of those told DZ to go fuck themselves for being superficial.

Welcome to the Greek system, ladies of DePauw! And...scene.

At this very minute, I'm sitting in Starbucks because the scary windstorm has knocked out power to my entire neighborhood. The wind has blown in orange dust from Oklahoma, making the air the color of a rusty pipe.

Sitting next to me in a puffy purple chair is one of my favorite Dallas actors. I run into him from time to time. Today I have spent a good hour listening to him dish out some primo gossip about the Dallas theater community.

His best story, however, is about a Big Star: This actor, a handsome guy, just did a few days' work on the film Blonde Ambition, which was shooting in Shreveport. Stars of the comedy are Jessica Simpson and Luke Wilson. It's produced by Joe Simpson, Jessica's dad. So you get the picture.

Dallas actor had scenes with Jessica. "She's very pretty," he says, raising an eyebrow to indicate subtext. In one of the scenes, Jessica was supposed to walk up to the Dallas actor and say, "What are you doing?" Simple enough, right? But the day they were shooting was the day after Jessica's debacle at the Kennedy Center Honors. She forgot the words to "Nine to Five" (with honoree Dolly Parton looking on), dissolved in tears and later begged CBS not to air her breakdown, which they agreed to.

So anyway, Dallas actor is doing this scene. Jessica, still perhaps a bit upset from the Kennedy Center thing, is supposed to say the one line, "What are you doing?" But instead, when the director, Scott Marshall, says "Action," she gets flustered and says, "What am I supposed to say?" And...scene.

What are you doing, Jessica?

Don't you think they'd love her up at Delta Zeta!


Blogger Karthik said...

Wikipedia is actually quite reliable, but I agree that it should never be used as a source for research. It's great as a jumping off point or a handy reference, but thats about the extend to which it should be relied upon. Wikipedia draws from more authoritative sources -- use those!

That said, Wikipedia is certainly more reliable than "a game of telephone". In a study by Nature (,
Encyclopedia Britannica clocked out at 2.92 errors per article while Wikipedia had 3.86. More errors, yes, but not terrible when you consider that the articles are written by somewhat anonymous internet users.

7:40 PM  
Blogger renita said...

hiya prof :)

i'm a depauw grad ('03) and all too familiar with the ridiculousness of the greek system there. lemme tell you, the majority of campus is outraged, and the sorority girls that agree are at least smart enough to not say it in public.

what you may or may not know about my alma mater: in any given year, up to 80% (usually hovers around 75%) of the students are in a fraternity or a sorority. on a campus of 2300. the greek system is not quite as pervasive as it used to be (they used to send people to counseling who didn't want to rush) but it's still the vast majority of the social scene.

i was a pledge in a house with even more non-white, non-skinny, non-stupid girls than DZ. it was the smallest house on campus, and our nationals came in and shut us down for not recruiting enough bodies. it was about money more than image, but the image had a lot to do with it, you bet your ass. DZ became basically the only house left that took the non-stereotypical girl, and now, as you can see, it's become so ridiculous as to make the new york times.

funny how the president promotes diversity, diversity, diversity, but all those diverse non-white, non-Midwestern, non-legacy kids ... want nothing to do with the all-holy greek system.

/end ramble

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to be enrolled... Do you think they have sororities with different initials?

M. Morno

4:57 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Hoffa said...

Hey prof, I loved your review of that French place in the Observer.

I do miss your writing contests, though.


11:29 AM  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

The second I saw the article about Depauw, I knew that the phantom professor would be commenting on it.

I have also notice that the official college guides are usually very short on mentioning how much or little the greeks have an particular campus. It seems that the only method to find out is to look at student comments and blogs.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm also an alumnus of DePauw ('05). I was one of only a handful of independents on that campus and got to see how out of control the Greek system is at the school from a perspective not tainted by the fascist policies of the system itself.

I'm honestly hoping this is beginning of the end for the system there. What could be an excellent university is routinely undermined by the idiocy to which the majority of the students on that campus adhere.

I've seen too many people either have their hearts crushed by system or turned into shallow, mindless morons. I'm glad this incident has exposed the truth about what goes on at that school and that the Greek system has nothing to do with friendship and love and everything to do with image and debauchery.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tulsa news blamed our dirty sky on Texas - Lubbock specifically! Will the rivalry never end, ha.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... "the greek system"?

Sorry, stupid antispam verification system truncated te comment sometime between the second and third 'type these letters' game :-(

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor, I love most of what you find to write about. But as a current DePauw student and sorority member, I hate the fact that the story about DZ has become less about a hateful thing done by one organization's nationals to an excuse for everyone to repeat negative stereotypes about the Greek system in general. The events that happened here were horrible for what they were, but they were not based on race, and they were not the "smart" sorority. The Greek system at DePauw is such that there is - or was, until DZ nationals attacked the Delta Zeta house - a house for anyone interested in going Greek, smart or dumb, fat or skinny, in clothes from Target or Marc Jacobs. I have a number of friends in Greek organizations across the campus, including some who were asked to leave DZ, and none of us have had our hearts or minds "crushed" by this system; instead, I've made friends with women I probably would otherwise have never met. My sorority house is home to minorities, overweight women, and yes, nerds (myself included.) Our campus has offered its full support to DZ, but it is sad that the media cannot do that without perpetuating stereotypes of the rich, blond, vacuous sorority girl, which is not reality at most houses where sisterhood is not just a motto, but a reality.

6:25 PM  
Blogger renita said...

to the anonymous dpu commenter:
puhleeeeze. i have HAD it with the BS line that "there is a place for everyone" in the dpu greek system. when it comes to sororities especially, it's total crap. maybe there used to be, but with the death of multiple houses that actually INCLUDED all sorts of people, there isn't any more. oh, sure, there are minorities and fat girls and smart girls, but they all get molded into the image of the house, or hidden in the kitchen during rush, or paraded out as evidence of this so-called "diversity." why do you think next to none of the big-city and posse kids join IFC/NPC houses? they can see right through it.

i bet i know what house you're a part of. and i bet yours is the next to go, based on the revolving door of "sisters" parading in and out of your house.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly am taken aback at the animosity of your response. I can only speak for myself, but for me, sisterhood in my house has made me a stronger, more confident, and happier person. If you are not Greek, that's your decision. My roommate freshman year, the person who actually convinced me to rush, remained independent, as did many of my friends from first-year. They are happy as independents, but they have never judged me for being Greek the way you are judging me and the entire sorority system without knowing us at all.
We do have women from Posse. We do have women from cities. I don't know what you're referring to with the "revolving door of sisters" but I wish you would explain yourself. The women of my house are all amazing individuals, and no, I don't think we're "the next to go" unless people like you succeed in destroying the Greek system altogether and ruining its tradition of service and sisterhood.

11:21 AM  
Blogger renita said...

people like me? you don't know me. people like me got screwed over by the greek system, thank you very much. go read my first comment, up there, and see if you understand a little better.

i was the first, when i was on campus, to defend sorority members for making a decision that was right for them. but it's such utter and total crap to pretend that there's a place for everyone. it's not true. and when an individual sorority (like dz, or the house i was briefly a part of) wants it to be true, they suffer the consequences for it.

1:10 PM  
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