Category Archives: F16 Russian 13

Chinese Government’s Role in the Spread of Coronavirus

Conspiracy Theory/Urban Legend
Chinese Government’s Role in the Spread of Coronavirus
Michael Xiao
San Ramon, California
2020

Informant Data:
Michael is an Asian-American male born in Santa Rosa, CA on April 6, 2000. Both of his parents are immigrants from China, but Michael has been raised in the United States, which has often been a rival to China in great power politics. Michael is fervently pro-US and anti-Communist Party of China and considers himself well-read on global politics. He’s currently a sophomore at Georgetown University.

Contextual Data:
As coronavirus has spread to the United States, President Donald Trump has sought to improve his chance at reelection and secure shelter from political animosity by deflecting blame for the epidemic on the Communist Party of China. In doing so, the president has promoted a theory questioning whether or not the current strain of coronavirus originated from a Wuhan lab that had been studying similar forms of the virus in the months and years prior. This conspiracy theory/urban legend serves a practical, political purpose of aiding reelection and a nationalist purpose for unifying a country in pandemic against a common, tangible enemy.

Item: [Paraphrased version of Michael’s description of the conspiracy theory]
Although I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, I recently heard of a myth regarding the Chinese Community Party’s role in the spread of coronavirus (note from the collector: I think the more proper term is a conspiracy theory or urban legend, rather than a myth). Apparently a Wuhan lab had been studying coronavirus before the epidemic and it may be possible that the lab had an accident or something that released the virus into the public. Again, I don’t believe the theory, especially without proof, but it’s interesting to think about, especially because the coronavirus may not have been spread at a wet market.

Kevin Xiao, 19
5517 London Way
San Ramon, CA 94582
Dartmouth College
Russ 13
Spring 2020

Stock Market Superstition

General Information about Item:

  • Conceptual Folklore – Superstition
  • Magic Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Tony Shen
  • Date Collected: 02-21-2018

Informant Data:

  • Tony Shen was born in Mountain View, California on June 25, 1996. Tony has stayed in California his whole life, only moving once to a city close to where he was born. Tony started swimming when he was eight years old, because he wanted to try something new and not be lazy. Tony is a senior at Dartmouth College, and is wrapping up his swimming career forever in a week. After graduation, Tony is working at PWC.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The high stress levels of swimming can be a lot for people, so having something to do that helps take your mind off of the meet to come is helpful.
  • Social Context: This superstition was recorded during a one on one interview on the bus ride to Ivy League Championships. Tony described a ritual that he does the week leading up to his big meets. Tony noted that another member of the Dartmouth Swim Team, Jimmy Patrick, also participates in this ritual with Tony. Ever since trying it Tony’s sophomore year, and Jimmy’s freshman year, it has been something to get their minds off of racing so they can relax.

Item:

  • Tony and his teammate, Jimmy, check the markets eight times a day the week before a big swim meet.

Image of iPhone Stocks App:

Transcript:

  • “The week leading up to our big swim meets, Jimmy and I find it imparrative to maintain mental fluidity and stability. To accomplish this, we check the markets, at least eight times per day. We find that this activity both sharpens our wits, as well as takes our mind off of the meet to come. Since we started doing this, it has helped me perform better in every swim meet.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • It seems kind of crazy, but being financially aware is such a big part of Dartmouth culture, so we’re able to distract ourselves from tense meets by focusing on this other big part of Dartmouth culture.

Collector’s Comments:

  • It seems as if this superstition reflects Freud’s theory of folklore being a sublimation of our subconcious neurotic behaviors. Checking the markets 8 times a day certainly seems neurotic, but by satisfying this other part of the subconscious, they don’t have to worry about the tension of swimming.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Conceptual Folklore, Magic Superstition, Markets, Freud, Neuroses, Swimming

Acceptance in the Workplace (Jacob Cruger)

Title: Acceptance in the Workplace

General Information About this Item:

  • Rite of Passage, workplace folklore
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Informant #2
  • Date Collected: 2/20/18

Informant Data:

  • FO+M worker, started working for the college relatively recently (within the last ten years). Not originally from the Upper Valley.

Contextual Data:

  • Facilities, Operations, and Management is a broad department containing numerous divisions, offices, and shops. It hires people from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from young people straight out of school to experienced workers.  There are no specific initiation rites for new employees, but the informant observes one clear trend with new hires.This practice was both observed by the informant and communicated to her by more experienced employees when she started her job.
  • According to current employees, FO+M has changed dramatically in the last 10-20 years. Accordingly, there is a widely acknowledged difference between “New Dartmouth” and “Old Dartmouth.”

Item:

  • Employees are typically vary polite and diplomatic with new employees. Only after some time has passed will employees be willing to joke around with or open up about their lives outside of work to more recent hires.

Transcript:

  • “The only thing I can think of, at least for this area, is when you first get here people are vary diplomatic… when I was new everyone was very diplomatic and very by the book. And the longer you’re here you know you’ve arrived when someone will like tell a joke around you”

Collector’s Comments:

This item seems closely connected to the notion of “Old Dartmouth v. New Dartmouth,” an idea I heard about from multiple informants.

Collector’s Name: Jacob Cruger

Tags/Keywords:

  • Rite of passage, rites of passage
  • FO+M

Image Credit

Bears (Brittany Champagne)

General Information about Item:

  • Genre: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country where Item is from: USA
  • Informant: Katie Harris
  • Date Collected: 11-2-17

Informant Data:

  • Katie Harris is a member of the class of 2019 at Dartmouth.  She is from central Illinois, specifically Lincoln.  Katie described her home as super rural and full of many families. Illonois to her is a “typical mid-west state,” the families are very close knit and tend to stay put rather than have a lot of new families moving in. She is from an area surrounded by a lot of farming and a love for the outdoors. Both her parents introduced her to hiking early on. When she was 3 years old and didn’t have a choice her parents would strap her to their back and go on hikes. A family vacation in the Harris household always seemed to involve hiking and led to Katie’s love for the activity.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: Bears are large problem amongst hikers.  This superstition is acted on proactively as well as consciously when moving from camp site to camp site.  Anything that gives off a strong scent is understood to be either left at home or stored away from the campsite to avoid inviting bears.  Animals have keen senses and strong smells can easily peak their curiosity.
  • Cultural Context: Safety is a main concern out in the wilderness.  Controlling all variables  possible can help to ensure better safety to you and those you are traveling with.  Hikers understand the need to avoid anything that has been proven or hypothesized to provoke dangerous circumstances.  Survival is one of the most important things to be aware of when in a new environment where you are not the only inhabitant and by removing heavily scented materials you are better equipped for survival.  It is better to be over prepared than retroactively regretful for not taking part in these superstitions.

Item:

  • Bears are said to be attracted to strong scents like perfumes and garbage
  • You must avoid wearing perfumes and tie garbage, or anything with a heavy scent, on a branch down wind from your campsite

Informant’s Comments:

  • “Everyone I’ve ever hiked with understands the importance of putting garbage bags away from camp.  Keeping strong scents away from our campsite decreases the chance that a bear will come looking for food where we are set up.  It is important to remember the dangers that surround you and actively try to avoid them.”

Collector’s Name: 

Brittany Champagne

Tags/Keywords:

  • superstition, scents, bears

Asking for a Raise

Title: Asking for a Raise

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • Jiachen Jiang is a ’20 at Dartmouth College studying Computer Science.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • Jiachen encountered this joke on the internet, as it is one of the more popular jokes that does not require any deep understanding of computer science. This joke can be shared with anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of data structures in computer science, although experienced computer scientists would still find the joke funny.

  • Cultural Context
    • The joke depends only on knowledge of the “array,” one of the most basic computer science data structures that any student of computer science would encounter in her first introductory course. The joke plays on the pun between the word “arrays” and the phrase “a raise,” indicating that a programmer who does not “get” arrays—that is, she does not understand the function of the array or how to use them correctly—will not find a career in computer science. On the other hand, any worker who does not receive an expected pay increase might be expected to quit after some time. This joke relies on a pun basic enough that experienced and inexperienced programmers alike will be able to appreciate and share, which explains why it is one of the most popular computer science jokes we have encountered. See Use Pointers for a variation on this joke that requires a little more programming knowledge to fully understand.

Item:

Q: Why did the programmer quit his job?

A: Because he didn’t get arrays!

Transcript:

  • Stephanie: Could you state your name and background please?
  • Jiachen: Yes. My name is Jiachen Jiang, I am a ’20 and I am a Computer Science major at Dartmouth College.
  • Stephanie: Can you tell me your joke please?
  • Jiachen: Yes. So the joke starts off with why did the programmer quit his job? The answer is, because he didn’t get arrays!
  • Stephanie: Ahaha! Alright, and where did you hear this joke?
  • Jiachen: I found this joke when I was scrolling through the internet, as I often do here at this College.
  • Stephanie: Alright. And uh, lastly, why is this joke funny?
  • Jiachen: This is joke is funny to me because arrays are a type of very popular data structure within Computer Science, spelled a-r-r-a-y-s. But arrays also sounds like “a raise”, as in an increase in monetary amount earned in a job. So when the programmer didn’t get a raise, that meant that he did not understand a basic computer science… a basic computer science theory. However, that also means he didn’t get enough money in order to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Stephanie Guo

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Arrays. Programming. Puns.

Recursion

Title: Recursion

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • James Sylvia is a Dartmouth ’19. He majors in Government. He took both CS 1 and ENGS 20, both of which are programming courses. He is most familiar with Python and C, but also has some small experience with Matlab. He grew up in Massachusetts.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • This joke would be shared between computer scientists or others familiar with programming, or just the concept of recursion. Age should not be relevant to whether or not this joke would come up.
  • Cultural Context
    • This joke highlights the inherent paradox presented by a recursive function, a commonly used technique in programming. The recursive function depends upon itself to operate and therefore can not work unless it has already worked before. In reality this is not a paradox as typically a conditional enables the function to run the first time without calling itself. Not doing this however can create what is called an infinite loop, which is problematic. Regardless, the paradoxical nature inherent to the recursive function provides humor through its own absurdity.

Item:

To understand recursion you must first understand recursion.

Transcription:

  • Robert: Could you please give your name and background?
  • James: My name is James. I am a ’19. I am a government major and I took a both CS 1 and ENGS 20, two programming courses, at Dartmouth..
  • Robert: Could you please tell your joke?
  • James: To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion.
  • Robert: Could you please tell me where you heard this joke?
  • James: I first heard it in my CS 1 class.
  • Robert: Could you briefly explain the joke?
  • James: The basis of the joke is that a recursive function calls itself. This means it can only function correctly if the function it calls, itself, already functions correctly.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Robert Sylvia

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Programming. Recursion. Syntax.

Halloween/Christmas

Title: Halloween/Christmas

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • James Sylvia is a Dartmouth ’19. He majors in Government. He took both CS 1 and Engs 20, both of which are programming courses. He is most familiar with Python and C, but also has some small experience with Matlab. He grew up in Massachusetts.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • This joke would generally only come up in groups of people who have some understanding of programming or electronics. Since numerical systems with bases other than 10 are a basic part of understanding how computers work, it is basic enough that any introductory course in programming or electronics would be a potential place such a joke would be encountered. Additionally, this is a joke that would make more sense presented in text rather than verbally due to the importance of the ‘==’ logic operator in the joke as well as the common written shorthand for October and December being Oct and Dec.
  • Cultural Context
    • There exists a concept of a numerical base for any numerical system. Our traditional normal numerical system is the decimal system which has a base of 10. Without going into detail, the base of a numerical system is equal to the number of single digit values that exist within it. This comes up often in programing and electronics because computers operate in a binary system which has a base of 2 to reduce electronic error. This understanding is often expanded into other numerical bases to elaborate how binary works among other things. Which system is being used is often denoted by 3 letters before the number itself. For the octal and decimal systems, this notation just so happens to be the same as the shorthand of October and December respectively. Those who understand the octal system know that 31 in the octal system is  8*3+1*1=25 in the standard decimal system. Hence the terms Oct 31 and Dec 25 are equivalent values as expressed by the ‘==’. This joke therefore is a type of pun made from the dates of Christmas and Halloween when looked at from the perspective of somebody who understands numerical bases.

Item:

Q: Why do programmers mix up Halloween and Christmas?

A: Because Oct 31 == Dec 25.

Transcript:

  • Robert: Could you please give your name and background?
  • James: My name is James. I am a ’19. I am a government major and I took a both CS 1 and ENGS 20, two programming courses, at Dartmouth..
  • Robert: Could you please tell your joke?
  • James: Why do programmers mix up Halloween and Christmas.
  • Robert: Why?
  • James: Because Oct 31 == Dec 25. It is funny because 31 in the octal system is 25 in the decimal base numerical system. The ‘==’ symbolizes an equivalence statement in logic operations.
  • Robert: Could you please tell me where you heard this joke?
  • James: I first heard it in my CS 1 class.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Robert Sylvia

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Boolean logic. Numerical bases. Pun. Programming.

10 Types of People

Title: 10 Types of People

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • Milan Chuttani is a Dartmouth ’18. He majors in Government and minors in computer science. He is most familiar with the computer languages Java and Python. He grew up in the state of Massachusetts.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • This joke would be popular to those who have at least a basic understanding of programming. Understanding the binary system is a very basic and introductory part of the general programming curriculum so even beginners would likely get it. Therefore it would be very common to first hear it in an introductory course on programming. Although this joke can be said verbally, it makes the most sense when presented in written form as 10 in binary would be called “zero one”, not “ten”, but the joke requires that the teller says “ten” as mistaking 10 for “ten” in integral to the joke.
  • Cultural Context
    • This joke is essentially a pun, except instead of using a word or phrase it uses the standard numerical system in programming. This joke also is one of those that would make beginner programmers feel part of a larger group. The joke is not so complex that they would not be able to understand it, but at the same time those who do not have any experience with binary or programming would be lost. In this way, it could give programmers of all skill levels a feeling of being “in” on something like a secret handshake or something along those lines. This builds a welcoming atmosphere for beginning programmers.
    • Milan encountered the joke on a T-shirt, making this particular piece a kind of material folklore.

Item:

There are only 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Transcript:

  • Robert: Could you please give your name and background?
  • Milan: Yeah, my name is Milan. I am an 18’ and a Gov major and computer science minor.
  • Robert: Could you please tell your joke?
  • Milan: Yep, there are only 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t.
  • Robert: Could you please tell me where you first got this joke from?
  • Milan: I saw it on a T-shirt somewhere and thought it was funny.
  • Robert: Could you please briefly explain the joke?
  • Milan: On the shirt there was a ‘1’ and a ‘0’ as opposed to a ‘10’ which in binary is two. So it’s funny because at first you think it’s ten types of people, but it’s actually just two.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Robert Sylvia

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Binary. T-shirt. Pun.

Engineers on a Plane

Title: Engineers on a Plane

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • Christina Long is a Dartmouth ’18 from Ramsey, NJ studying Engineering modified with Computer Science.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • This joke is meant to be shared amongst fellow engineers who can appreciate the self-deprecating nature of the joke, especially in an academic setting. Chrissy encountered this joke on the social media website Reddit, where online communities of engineers and some non-engineers can share jokes and other aspects of the engineering lifestyle with each other.
  • Cultural Context
    • This joke relies heavily on the theme of self-deprecation, and that its characters include 3 engineering professors (not 3 professors of different disciplines) implies that its intended audience is made up of engineers. It is intended to be an in-joke that engineers share to acknowledge the difficulty of teaching engineering and laugh at themselves in good fun, not a mean-spirited insult of engineers from an outsider. Chrissy (and many other informants in this collection) encountered this joke on the internet, and the website Reddit in particular is well-suited to the propagation of folklore. Reddit creates internet forums for every conceivable topic or interest in smaller communities called “subreddits,” and the subreddits for jokes (and computer science and engineering jokes specifically) enjoy a lot of popularity from the engineers and some non-engineers who use the site.

Item:

There are three engineering professors on a plane that is about to take off. The pilot comes on over the intercom and gives out a special congratulations to these three professors because their own students have designed this very plane. Two of the professors begin to frantically unbuckle their seat belts and race for the exit. They turn around to the third professor who’s seated calmly and ask, “Why aren’t you running?” The third professor looks at them and says, “I know my students. This plane isn’t getting off the ground.”

Transcript:

  • Stephanie: Can you tell me your name and background?
  • Chrissy: I’m Christina Long, I’m a Dartmouth 2018, and I’m studying Engineering modified with Computer Science.
  • Stephanie: Can you tell me a programming or engineering joke you’ve heard before?
  • Chrissy: Yeah. So, there are these 3 engineering professors on a plane and the plane’s about to take off. The pilot comes on over the intercom and gives out a special congratulations to these 3 professors because it’s their own students who designed this very plane. Two of the professors begin to frantically unbuckle their seatbelt and race for the exit. They turn around to the third professor who’s seated calmly and they say, “Why aren’t you running?” The third professor looks at them and says, “I know my students. This isn’t getting off the ground.”
  • Stephanie: [laughs] Can you tell me a little bit about.. uh, the background of the joke, why is it funny?
  • Chrissy: It’s just kind of a self-deprecating joke to be shared among fellow engineers cause the implications are that the students are so utterly incompetent and the professors know it that they would build a plane that utterly fails.
  • Stephanie: And where did you first hear the joke, and who told you?
  • Chrissy: I think I read it online on Reddit.
  • Stephanie: Alright, thank you!

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Stephanie Guo

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Engineering. Plane. Academia. Reddit.

Use Pointers

Title: Use Pointers

General Information about Item:

  • Joke
  • English
  • United States

Informant Data:

  • Robert Sylvia is a Dartmouth ’17 electrical engineer. He’s from Medfield, Massachusetts.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context
    • This joke would be shared in a casual, friendly context, probably among peers who both know they have some computer science background. It may be more likely to be shared among computer science coworkers, as it references the work environment.
  • Cultural Context
    • The humor of this joke derives from a pun on the homophones “a raise” and “arrays”. More than just the pun though, the joke is humorous due to its niche appeal. Understanding arrays and pointers is rather entry-level knowledge, but it still requires education in computer science that anyone who’s never studied computer science likely wouldn’t know. It gives them a sense of belonging to an in-group. Both arrays and pointers can be used for storing and accessing information. Arrays tend to be bulkier but more intuitive, while pointers are more versatile but more complicated. People with computer science background who push this debate take pleasure in choosing one side over the other–constructing a sort of team rivalry between the two–so an audience to this joke would the reference to the debate and the side-picking.

Item:

A programmer goes into his boss’s office and says, “I need a raise.”

The boss responds, “No you don’t, you need pointers.”

Transcript:

  • Chrissy: Could you give your name and background?
  • Robert: I’m Robert Sylvia. I’m a Dartmouth ’17 engineering major.
  • Chrissy: Uh, could you tell us what joke you have?
  • Robert: Yes. It’s uh–So, there’s a programmer who goes into his boss’s office and says, “I need a raise.” And the boss responds, “No you don’t, you need–you can use pointers.”
  • Chrissy: So could you tell us where you heard–first heard the joke?
  • Robert: I think I heard this joke through my physics professor in high school. Although it’s a little fuzzy, so it may have just been something I picked up along the way.
  • Chrissy: And can you give the context of the joke?
  • Robert: Um, well the idea behind it is that there’s two things in programming called “arrays” and “pointers”. And, they kind of can be used to do the same thing. It’s just that some people–most people prefer using arrays. And then pointers are–…have some…benefits to them programming-wise but they’re slightly harder to use. And that’s kind of the gist of the joke.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Collector’s Name: Christina Long

Tags/Keywords:

  • Joke. Arrays. Pointers. Programming. Puns.