Continuing at the top of the next page. The first page of this Narita entry was having trouble updating, which is a sign that it was getting too long.
Students in Pell's seminar got to pick the papers they were interested in presenting. There were two to a paper, or at least a couple people presenting each week. I think the two presenters got together beforehand to analyze and discuss the papers they were to present that week. A lot of the papers were from the journal "Cognition and Emotion."
Most of the papers were pretty disappointing. A lot of them were downright bad. I was disappointed myself, and worried, as well. When Michel Paradis selected papers for his seminars there was usually a good mix. Some papers were very difficult, some abstruse, some inventive, some poor, some were a mix. Paradis was never shy about going through the papers and saying what he liked and didn't like. Neither were any of the students, as far as I knew. I felt perfect freedom to say what I disliked about the research, with no inhibition. The trick was to back opinions up with hard evidence. I never observed Paradis yelling at a student for questioning him. He seemed to enjoy hashing out tough questions with the students, and it all appeared perfectly good-natured from my perspective.
Marc Pell was very different. For starters, the research he had selected was disappointing, as I said. I had been plugging away steadily at statistics courses, and the material had started to coalesce, at least as it applied to our subfield of psychology. I was trying to make an effort to examine the statistical analyses in the papers I was reading with a critical eye, instead of just taking the statistics and figures at face value. Marc Pell had apparently not made the same effort. Statistically-speaking, most of the papers were bumf. Also, disorganized, poorly written, poorly argued. It didn't speak well of Marc Pell.
I had taken a seminar with Michel Paradis on much the same topic: Right Hemisphere Pragmatics. Winter 1999. In that seminar there had been a few things in some of the papers I hadn't liked. Paradis didn't exactly get all verklempt about it. He would consider what I had said, and either agree or disagree.
Marc Pell actually did get all verklempt about it. You would have thought I was insulting his nearest and dearest. It can be fun to rip a bad paper to shreds, and I didn't see why I should hold back. Nobody else was, by which I mean that Katerina Klepousniotou was having her fun, too. Henry Cheang caught on, although he wasn't as good at it. Diane Pesco had a few points to make as well.
As said earlier, I had gone into the seminar wanting to make nice with Marc Pell for two reasons: 1) political -- Elin Thordardottir was giving me shit, and I needed help in diffusing the situation; 2) I was actually interested in the Right Hemisphere, and was hoping to do some research along those lines.
(Oh, Elin Thordardottir. Stories of her freakouts are legendary. And you never knew what would set her off! She took off to Europe for a month or two my first year with her. She didn't give me a heads-up first, and I hiked over to her office one day to get something signed, and found out she had been in Iceland for two weeks. This was long before you could handle a problem like that over email. When she eventually got back from Europe, I met with her and asked her, politely if a bit blankly, if she could warn me in advance if she was leaving her office for any length of time, just in case I needed something signed before she left. Elin Thordardottir screamed at me AND ACCUSED ME OF TRYING TO CONTROL HER LIFE I SHIT YOU NOT. She is such a fucking moron.
I didn't dare say boo to her after that sociopathic freakout, but there was a coda to all this. A while later, can't remember how long, I went to Elin Thordardottir's office for some reason or other, and found, again, that she had gone to Iceland, and would be there for a while. Shari Baum overheard me knocking at Elin Thordardottir's door, and came into the corridor to tell me that Elin was out of the country. "She never tells me these things!" I said, exasperated. Shari grinned, and I took off. I think Shari talked to Elin when Elin got back, because she did actually start telling me after that when she was leaving for Europe. It didn't make a big difference. Elin Thordardottir is a worthless moron no matter which country she is in. That was almost the sole productive thing Shari Baum did for me during my tenure at McGill in her department. It backfired. A few years later, when Elin's new PhD students, Machid Namazi and Adreanne Gagne entered the department, I warned them about Elin, and gave this incident as an example. Machid Namazi sneered and Andreanne flatly and directly accused me of lying. They didn't want to believe it. I wasn't that worried. The Earth's magnetic field will one day flip, but Elin Thordardottir's fucking incompetence is an immutable fact of life. And of course, in time I was shown to be right. But I had had a nervous breakdown by then.)
Update: Was ripped off over the Internet when sick by a woman named Brooke of Vancouver, aka brsquared of Etsy, email email@example.com, 1210 Quayside Drive, New Westminster, V3M 6H1, (604) 790-7002. I'm still dealing with the fallout. Will probably end up in small claims court, but feel better just typing it out.
Also, I'm not employable by language schools in Victoria because I am not TESL Canada certified. The PhD counts for squat. I need to pay $400.00 to have my credentials verified by someone with a Masters. The only way I can currently afford a $400.00 fee is if I stop eating. The irritating thing is that a couple of the local schools WANT to hire me, but they can't, or else they will get in trouble with Languages Canada. I emailed the local MP, Murray Rankin (NDP) to complain, pointing out that it would take me three months to scrape together the necessary funds, plus an additional six weeks to get certified. Could they intervene? Murray Rankin's henchman, Alisma Perry, emailed me back to say that it wasn't their problem. Languages Canada is "recognized" by the federal government, but it is apparently not OF the federal government. Nothing they could do to help. Also, there are a lot of unemployed people in Victoria, and I wasn't that special, so stop whining. It was like dealing with the Canadian medical system!
This makes for dull reading, but it is a relief to type it out and get it out of my system. Otherwise I stew all day. Soon as I can scrape together airfare I'm off to China. This country has taken too much and given me nothing.
Update: Oh, relax, people. Marc Pell may not have plagiarized my research. At least, I am not positive. I don't have access to all the information. Something I read about Marc Pell when I got out of hospital in 2005, is all. And if he didn't -- hey, anyone out there want develop a facial emotion recognition test battery based on implicitly, unconsciously, naturalistically generated stimuli? It's a fucking amazing idea, if I do say so myself. I just couldn't get Marc interested in the idea. God knows I tried. He wanted to hire actors to generate facial emotions explicitly, because that's the way it's always been done. So sorry for that, Marc, if I unfairly maligned you on that point. Of course, I don't know if you actually deserve the apology. You're still a nasty little bitch either way, of course, so I'll keep on talking about that instead. I'll write about it more tomorrow, in fact. Bedtime.
Pell Seminar: I complained about the stats. Katerina -- as she was calling herself then -- complained also -- I can't remember about what specifically, but I remember she was paired up with Areej to present one paper, and Areej mentioning that she herself had thought it was a good paper until she discussed it with Katerina. Katerina tore through a few, just as I did. Katerina made a negative comment about the journal of Cognition and Emotion. Marc Pell defended it as a good journal. Henry Cheang make several negative comments about the research. I can't remember what they were, and I am sure they were not important.
Diane Pesco came up with an interesting idea. A couple of the papers had dealt with the theory of lateralization of positive and negative emotion. I remember one paper had positive vs. negative emotions on a sort of Cartesian coordinate grid, though I can't remember what was on the other axis. Diane made the good point that the idea of seeing emotions through a framework of positive or negative values was a Western one. A Buddhist might not necessarily make the same division. She had more to say on the subject, but I can't remember it in detail. I though she was making a good point that could be adapted to new research, but I don't know if she ever did any research along those lines, or if Marc picked up on it.
During the seminar Marc starting talking about hiring actors for the facial emotion test battery he was preparing. I started complaining about that kind of test battery. They always really worried me. As I said in class, you run into the "ceci n'est pas une pipe" problem. For these tasks, the participants are not shown the reality, they are shown a representation of reality. I talked about using implicit measures instead. Galvanic skin response. I said there were things that people picked up on implicitly, like pupil dilation, that actors couldn't fake -- not even the best ones. Use naturalistic stimuli rather than consciously generated "emotional" expression.
Marc Pell didn't like my idea, and he said so in class, because that wasn't the way it had always been done. Too bad. As I said, I had been hoping to impress Marc Pell. I needed publications. I had brought a list of ideas for research projects to Elin Thordardottir, and she had shot them down, and told me I was too easily distracted. I was hoping Marc Pell would like my idea, and invite me to work on the project with him.
But no, it wasn't to be. At the end of the seminar - near the last day, I mean - Marc Pell apologized to the group for the poor quality of the papers he had chosen for us. I got a reasonable good grade on my final papers for the class: A minus. Not good, not bad. Grades are inflated in grad school. Marc Pell had some quibbles with the execution rather than the general idea. His complaint with the paper was arguably correct, so I didn't worry too much about it at the time.
Update: Had an appointment today with Laurence Alexander Bosley. Honestly, I'd rather be psychotic than deal with that unctuous little creep. That's the last I'll ever see of him! Bye, bye Bosley!
Update: I'm starting to dislike this blog, which worries me. Writing about McGill brought up a lot of bad memories. I feel like I need to get my memories down, but it is difficult. I am starting to second-guess myself, and worry about what I should be writing, instead of what I want to write. Maybe the doctors will be better in Europe or China.
Update: This wouldn't be a proper daily update without a potshot at the Canadian medical profession. It's strange, but writing about and making fun of doctors on this blog has never left me depressed. The doctors I have met have disgusted me; they have frightened me; I found them ridiculous, and I hold them in contempt, but in a sense, they were lightweights. The doctors and medical students at Schulich were so over-the-top in their disgusting behaviour that I couldn't consider them real human beings. They were mostly funny. I think this was a result of the way they talked about their patients. They talked about their patients in a very simple fashion, as though the patients weren't human. It reflected back on the doctors at Schulich, as far as I was concerned. I looked at the doctors there through the framework they gave to me. I turned their framework back on them. That's what they see in my blog. They taught me how to write it.
In contrast, the people at McGill were real human beings, complex, multidimensional. I took them seriously. They left their mark on me.